Season Preview: Philadelphia
By Patrick Kearns, TheFourthPeriod.com
Philadelphia Flyers have been consistently one of the better teams in the league
over the past few years. The one thing that has always separated them from a
consistently elite team has been their goaltending woes.
They acquired Ilya Bryzgalov to fix that longstanding issue. Unfortunately, like
many of the previous Flyers netminders, Bryzgalov had an awful season. He
struggled on a nightly basis, and it was strongly highlighted in the playoffs
when the New Jersey Devils absolutely trounced the Flyers.
They still have a strong combination of skill and grit, however, to compete in
the Atlantic Division, with full lines of complete players.
Claude Giroux established himself as one of the top players in the league last
year. He finished just outside the top three in Hart Trophy voting, which was
widely considered a snub by fans and experts alike. He does not carry the
offensive load along, however. The Flyers unloaded both Jeff Carter and Mike
Richards, which saw the additions of young forwards Brayden Schenn and Sean
Couturier. Along with second-year player Matt Read, the future is bright
offensively for the Flyers. On the veteran side, fan-favorite Scott Hartnell and
playoff stud Danny Briere are expected to continue to perform at their career
averages, which would put the Flyers in good shape offensively.
With Chris Pronger's career all but over, the Flyers looked outside the
organization on the off-season in an effort to replace the future Hall of Fame
defenseman. They signed Shea Weber to an offer sheet, but Nashville matched it,
and they were serious contenders for Ryan Suter. They ended up acquiring Luke
Schenn from Toronto. Schenn joins a cast of veteran defenders including Andrej
Meszaros on the blueline. He will be expected to make an immediate impact and be
one of the top defenders on team. Veteran guys like Kimmo Timonen and Meszaros
will need to play consistent hockey as well if the team wants to be successful.
When Bryzgalov signed that enormous contract, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren came under
a lot of scrutiny. Well, after one season, the contract is looking even worse.
To give Bryzgalov the benefit of the doubt, it takes some time to adjust to
playing in a huge hockey town like Philly. He will not get a pass this season,
though, if he continues to perform at a substandard level.
The Flyers have the all-around talent to be a playoff team. But it will fall
solely on their goaltending to see how far this club can actually go. Bryzgalov
has performed at a high level before, and the Flyers are hoping he begins to
live up to his contact. They should make the playoffs easily, but more likely
than not they will finish the regular-season at about the fifth seed.
3 Players to Watch
The former TFP coverboy is so supremely talented that he makes players around him better. He
has some of the top hands in the league, and possesses excellent on-ice
vision. He needs another Hart Trophy-like season to push the Flyers to the
The rookie showed last season why the Flyers took him in the Top 10 of the
2011 NHL Entry Draft after trading Jeff Carter to Columbus. His impressive
play at both ends of the ice earned him ice time ahead of other rookies on
the team, and by the end of the season he was being counted on for crucial
minutes. He needs to add a little more offense to his game.
Schenn joins his brother Brayden this season sporting the Orange and Black.
He is considered somewhat of an underachiever at this point in his career,
as he was expected to be the No. 1 guy in Toronto. The Flyers need to hope a
change of scenery will bring out the best in Luke.