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Expectations putting Flyers’ Ivan Fedotov on a tall pedestal

VOORHEES. N.J. — Flyers captain Sean Couturier did a double take introducing himself Friday to Ivan Fedotov, the team’s new 6-foot-7 goalie.

At 6-foot-3, Couturier had heard all the standard jokes about being tall. Fedotov was all of that and more.

“He had his skates on, I didn’t, and he was tall,” Couturier said after the morning skate Saturday. “Biggg boy. He seemed like Zdeno Chára tall. And with skates you probably add another two, three inches.”

Chára was the 6-foot-9 defenseman from Slovakia who played 24 seasons in the NHL with several teams, including the Bruins and Washington. To see him skating up and down the ice was to see him twice.

To see Fedotov, the Russian import, moving side to side stopping pucks in front of the net figures to be every bit as fascinating for Couturier and a Flyers team that may be one talented goaltender and scorer short of legitimately putting themselves in the Stanley Cup conversation. It’s just tough to get past the size thing.

Fedotov’s blockers are almost as big as Sam Ersson, the No. 1 goalie right now. They’re like automobile bumpers,. Picture a big guy in goal with a couple of bumpers to block shots.

While it was only a skate Saturday, Fedotov stopped 17 straight pucks in a row early in the session before the Flyers starting throwing 2-on-1’s against him. This guy could be the equalizer in penalty shootouts.

“He’s obviously a guy who knows how to cover angles really well,” Couturier said. “When you come in you don’t see any holes and that’s kind of intimidating a little bit. But also if you think you have them, with the size they have, sometimes they can reach out and make a big save, or save an open net.”

Joel Farabee, who as a Flyers prospect was at a development camp with Fedotov, is eager to see what the newcomer has.

“He’s really big,” Farabee said. “In a shooter’s eyes, you try to get him moving maybe a bit. But obviously, that was just the morning skate. You’re not really trying to score too much.”

For a big guy, Fedotov has a lot of personality. In just the skate at the Flyers Training Center, during a break he posed for a photo with a youth garbed in a Flyers jersey on the other side of the glass.

After the skate Fedotov moved to the center of the stretching circle and while lying on the ice spun around while nodding to each of his new teammate as if to say hello. The players pounded their sticks on the ice in applause. Finally, the Flyers’ tallest goalie ever left them howling with his last move, the splits. Even the flexibility was off the charts.

You would think Flyers coach John Tortorella couldn’t wait to figure out when to send the big guy into live action.

“I spoke with him yesterday,” Tortorella said. “I don’t know anything about him. I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea (when he plays). I’m just worried about tonight. Ersson’s in goal tonight. I’ll give you that.”

Tortorella declined to even venture into his own experiences competing against big and tall goaltenders in his 22-year coaching career. Is the sheer size is an asset?

“I have no idea,” Tortorella said. “He’s tall. I have no information. I know you want information on him, but I have no information on him at all. There are no reports. I don’t know anything about goaltending. I don’t want to hear about goaltending. I want him to stop the puck. That’s all a coach wants. There are too many other things.”

There certainly is a buzz in the Flyers’ dressing room. Fedotov was a Ron Hextall draft pick, the Flyers’ long ago general manager taking him off the board in the seventh round (188th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry draft. Fedotov, 27, is under contract for $832,500 this season yet has a cap hit of $925,000. He is slated to become a free agent after this season.

Farabee said Fedotov’s English has improved greatly from the development camp they spent together. Other than that, Farabee is as curious as anybody about what Fedotov can do in the NHL. The same with Couturier. Big as Fedotov is, the expectations are super-sized as well.

“There’s definitely a lot of hype,” Couturier said. “Over the last couple years he’s definitely proven that he’s a great goalie over there, one of the best. Represented his national team in the last Olympics. He’s definitely a world-known goalie. Obviously, the ice size in the NHL is maybe a little different. It might be a little adaptation for him but I think at the age he is, he’s a little older, too, so he’s probably got the experience and maturity to adjust fine. So, we’ll see. It’s definitely exciting to have him here.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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