Enter: The Risto

The time has come for of one of the most polarizing season debuts the Flyers have had in recent memory.

Considering the number of stopgaps, reclamation projects, and general “hopes and dreams” type situations the Flyers have put themselves in over the past decade, this should feel like another day at work for the Flyers and their fans. But this one feels… different. Polarizing. Exciting? Enter the Risto.

Ristolainen has the set of tools that should make him a fan favorite in Philadelphia. Huge stature, booming slapshot, and very physical style that can be a pleasure to watch when he’s on his game, knocking other players into next week.

One thing that makes me even more excited to see the debut of the Risto is ironically a bit of a downer item. This being the performance of the Flyers’ net-front defense, namely Travis Sanheim against the Canucks in the Flyers’ season opener. Two goals can be attributed at least in part to Sanheim’s inability to properly clear the porch in front of Carter Hart. We’ve beaten the “Carter Hart needs to be better” dead horse enough. While I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment, the issue of players being allowed to openly poke and hack away at the puck is glaring.

Chiasson (spelled as “Chaisson,” way to go, Vancouver) fights for and scores a goal to make it 3-1 Canucks.
JT Miller creeps in behind Sanheim to poke the puck into the net, making it 4-2 Canucks.

We’ve known for a while that Sanheim is not in any way a very physical defenseman despite his size. But this is inexcusable. Enter the damn Risto.

I have to think that similar issues crop up in a Risto-Yandle pairing. Yandle’s strengths are moving the puck up the ice and his power-play abilities, not all that different from Sanheim. Regardless of Risto’s deployment, there will be a need to clear the porch for Carter Hart.

This is an excellent target of opportunity for Rasmus Ristolainen. There is a clear need (pun intended, let’s be honest) to clear the front of the net on these goals, and a 6’4 215-lb Finnish man just might do the trick.

The concern of course remains his tendency to take himself out of the play to make big hits. Enter the chaos of his game and really any pairing he’s on. Enter the Risto.

I, just as most everyone else, acknowledge Risto has bust potential. The defensive awareness and positioning with him and Sanheim or him and Yandle may very well wind up resembling Sanheim-Myers of yesteryear, which I don’t think anyone wants or needs to see again. Everyone grab a bowl of popcorn and your favorite drink, because I don’t think this one has a boring ending.

We’ve patiently awaited, talked about, (sub)tweeted about, and debated this man’s potential role and overall efficiency as a Flyer. Now we get a glimpse. Enter results. Enter the Risto.

– Brian Adams (@BadamsProblems)

Photo Creds: Flyers Official Twitter Account, NBC Sports Philly (namely Jordan Hall)

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