If you don’t follow the Flyers closely, you may not know whom the guy pictured above is. But that guy, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, is the most underrated player on the team, and may be one of the most important. He may be a fourth-line player who may not get much name recognition, but he should league-wide for what he can do on the ice.
Bellemare came to the Flyers two off-season’s ago after a long career in Sweden’s top professional league. The now 31 year old from France (one of two current NHLers from France) is thriving in his role on the Flyers. The entire Flyers fourth line, consisting of Bellemare, Ryan White, and Chris Vandevelde has been arguably the Flyers most consistent and best lines. The fourth line hasn’t changed when all 3 guys are healthy, unlike the other 3 lines.
Bellemare’s stats may not jump off the board: 6 goals, 6 assists, and -5 rating in 65 games this year, yet his productiveness comes elsewhere. He kills penalties, has tremendous puck-possession capabilities, and is always on the ice in crucial points of the game. His best attribute is his hockey IQ. The guy rarely makes an error in the game. Bellemare’s ability to deflect passes when pressuring on the forecheck and penalty kill, as well as his ability to block shots and block passing/shooting lanes is truly invaluable to the Flyers. Also, when the Flyers need it, whether on the penalty kill or at the end of games, he has the ability to waste time in opponent’s zones by possessing the puck along the boards and holding off defenders. Constantly frustrating opposing teams. Any time he scores is an added bonus to what he already contributes to the team. There is no question about it; with Bellemare the Flyers are a lot better a team than without him.
Next time you watch the Flyers, take a peek at Bellemare and his abilities. He may not score 20 goals a season, but there is no question to how valuable he is to the team. As the Flyers head down the home stretch and try to make a playoff run, look to see Bellemare play a crucial role. It is guys like Bellemare, Vandevelde, and White (who has turned it on recently) that make teams playoff teams. Let’s hope the Flyers can sneak into the playoffs.
Image Source: Sporting News
Stats Source: NHL.com