PITTSBURGH -- On Thursday, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he was not trying to send a message by bumping Nik Zherdev to the fourth line, where he skated with Jody Shelley and Blair Betts.
“There was no message-sending there,” Laviolette said. "[Andreas] Nodl played good, and I wanted to see him on that line today. I think he's worked hard, and he's done what we've asked."
If the message wasn’t sent on Thursday, it was delivered on Friday night.
Loud and clear.
Zherdev wasn’t just demoted to the fourth line, he was scratched from the lineup entirely, before the topped the Penguins, 3-2, at Consol Energy Center.
Zherdev was not even on the ice for warmups and was seen in the lobby of the team’s hotel in Pittsburgh at 5:15 pm.
It was an interesting move, considering Zherdev picked up his second goal of the season in the Flyers’ 6-3 win over Buffalo on Tuesday night. It was possibly his best game since coming to Philadelphia.
Laviolette said after the game that he scratched Zherdev for Dan Carcillo because he was looking for toughness against the rival Penguins.
"I expected it to be a physical game," Laviolette said. "I wanted to get Danny back in there because we were on the road in Pittsburgh and they’ve got some tough players in their lineup. Danny brings a physical element to the game: body checking, forechecking and the way he plays the game."
The switch paid off. Not only were there two fights in the first 23 seconds of the game, but Carcillo also picked up his first goal of the season during the second period after digging for the puck in Pittsburgh's zone.
Zherdev was never a healthy scratch in Columbus under former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock. He played in all 82 games for the Rangers in his only season in New York.
The Flyers signed Zherdev to a 1-year, $2 million deal in July. Through 9 regular season games, he has yet to show the potential evident in the preseason, when he posted 5 goals in 6 games.
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