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Category Archives: Season Previews

It’s Finally Here: New Era of Flyers Hockey Begins Tonight

The Flyers return to the TD Garden in Boston tonight for the first time since they ended their playoff hopes there back in April. The Bruins, fresh off of an impressive run through the playoffs and a Stanley Cup victory, will be hoisting their championship banner into the rafters to kick off their 2011-2012 campaign. The Flyers open up their first two games on the road before heading home against the Canucks next week, so this one should be a good test.

The Bruins are largely unchanged from their roster last year, with lots of depth on the forward lines and a stout defense backed by impressive goaltenders. The Flyers are coming off a forward overhaul and a big signing of a top-tier goalie. Tonight’s game should be a great game for hockey fans to add the budding Philly/Boston rivalry that was rekindled during the Winter Classic and the 2010 playoffs. How will the Flyers match up? Will the forwards begin to gel with such a young squad? Will the defense hold up this season? Is Bryzgalov worth his price?

Forwards
The biggest makeover this season was the Flyers’ forward corps. The departures of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino, Kris Versteeg, Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, and Blair Betts left holes all over our line-up. However, the additions of Wayne Simmonds, Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek, Maxime Talbot, Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and (eventually) Brayden Schenn will all see action this season to fill a role. Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, and James VanRiemsdyk will all have to carry the load for the offense as returning players. That’s not to say that the new guys will not be contributing either; because Jagr, Read, Voracek, and Simmonds will see an expanded role offensively for the Flyers. Most of these guys are very young and will have to gather chemistry with each other in order to be successful against some of the top talent in the East. Their age hopefully will equal energetic shifts that will mesh with Laviolette’s up-tempo offense.

Talbot enters as a penalty killer and checking line player that should help alleviate the loss of Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. Matt Read was spectacular in the pre-season, but can he translate that to a regular season NHl game? Can Simmonds eclipse 20 goals for the first time in his young career? Will Jagr have enough in the tank for the whole season? Can Voracek build off of his decent start and equal his trade value? And when Schenn finally plays on the Flyers, is he for real? Only time will tell, but the potential of our forwards is there. Let’s see if they can put some goals together.

Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky: The Russian Connection
Ilya Bryzgalov, the bajillion dollar man. He comes to the Flyers this season as one of the best goalies they’ve had in years. Will his success in Phoenix continue here in Philadelphia where he has arguably a better team in front of him? What about Bobrovsky? Bobrovsky could vary well be dangled as trade bait until the deadline, or he could be our young backup trying to gain a starting job in the future. I’d rather see the latter, but for once we have a solid goalie and a solid prospect at the same time. Can’t tell you the last time that happened. Let’s see what Bryz can do between the pipes tonight.

The Aging Defense
Chris Pronger, our newly crowned captain, is apparently healthy and ready to go after seeing some action in the pre-season. He returns with Kimmo Timonen, another fellow aging veteran. Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros return as well as the younger guys with good NHL experience. I do not think Carle and Coburn will both be returning next season, so their play will dictate who stays and who goes. Matt Walker will be starting for the Flyers tonight after clearing waivers, and free-agent signing Andreas Lilja will be the 7th defenseman. Our defense’s success will be predicated on our older guys staying healthy and remaining effective. If they can do that, our defense should be as good if not better than last year. Also, look for Bartulis and Gustafsson to get some playing time this year if there should be any injury or Laviolette feels the need to give these guys a shot.

Flyers are set for a 7 PM puck drop aired nationally on VS. Then they’ll travel to NJ to face the Devils on Saturday night. Get ready for this one, because it’s going to be a wild ride.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Season Previews

 

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How the Roster Is Shaping Up So Far

Can’t believe it has been almost a month since I posted on here. Went away a few times and have been busy working this summer, and there hasn’t been much in the way of news since my last post. I try to steer away from reporting straight-up news on here because there are plenty other sites that have press credentials and can report a lot quicker and more often than I can. I like to keep it about my thoughts and analysis on the state of the team, their moves, and things I think should happen. That being said, after the activity of the Flyers this off-season, I think it is safe to say that we’re in for a fun season. On paper this team may not seem as ready to succeed as last year, but I don’t think there will be a time where watching this team with young talent will be boring… and we should rarely see them not show up to games ready to play.

Not to shortchange the impact of Richards, Carter, Leino, Powe, and others last season, but the organization taking a new direction and with different faces and a new guy wearing the ‘C’, it should help keep the team motivated throughout the year. The Flyers seemed complacent last year after continuing their playoff success into the following regular season. The team remained largely un-changed sans the departure of Simon Gagne and the addition of Andrej Meszaros, and I think in the end it cost them the motivation required to play hard every night and work towards the ultimate goal.

If I were to pick lines right now without seeing anything in training camp, they would look something like this:
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Season Preview: Starts in Pittsburgh

The Consol Energy Center’s opening night will have the honor of hosting the defending Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers. The homecoming/home-breaking for one of our biggest division rivals and we have a chance to ruin it just like the Canadiens ruined the last memory of the Igloo last spring. I’m pumped.

The Flyers are coming off a Stanley Cup Final run that ended in a 6 game series with Chicago and without some pieces from that team. Losses of Gagne to trade and Leighton and Lappy to injury bring a lot of room for players to step in. Nikolai Zherdev is a man on a mission for another shot at the NHL after spending some time in the Russian KHL league, and he has a shot to now playing with some of our top profile players. Michael Leighton’s play was stellar at times last season, but fell letting in a few soft goals in the Final; including a flukey-type one that ended his team’s run. Brian Boucher is back to take it between the pipes while Russian up-and-comer goaltender Sergei Brobovsky will be dressing as the club’s backup with Johan Backlund on the Phantoms. UPDATE: Apparently Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start tonight in Pittsburgh. Can’t wait to see what this kid has in store for us this season.

Another concern on the injury front has been the absence of Chris Pronger. Pronger had some procedures done on his knee this summer before the start of camp and did not participate in the pre-season. However, we have to recognize that this is Chris Pronger we’re dealing with here, and he doesn’t necessarily need the pre-season. He knows what type of shape he has to be in at this point in his career. Tonight everyone was expecting him to play, and we know he wants to. He will not be playing tonight and Matt Walker Oskars Bartulis will be taking his place. This defense has a lot to answer for. With most of the core intact with Pronger, Timonen, Carle, and Coburn, we should be solid. We also have returning second year player Oskars Bartulis to supplement the new additions of Sean O’Donnell, Matt Walker, and Andrej Meszaros.

There are a few young players on the team who also have a lot of questions to answer this season. Ville Leino stunned and dazzled hockey fans with the opportunity he received in the Eastern Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals. Now this is his chance to prove to the Flyers he’s worth a new contract. Zherdev will be hoping to get another contract too, so look for these two young talents to duke it out all year. Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter are also entering the last year on their contracts, and both are due for a pay raise. This will be a problem down the road, especially with Carter’s cap hit already at $5,000 and Giroux still on his rookie contract under $1,000. JVR has added more muscle to his frame to help his play along the boards. He has the talent and skill to play in the NHL, now he just needs the grit and effort to become a true power-forward type player that he can be. I’d like to see him take it to guys on the boards and be aggressive in fighting for the puck. You got size kid, start using it.

The Pens are going to be opening their new building and trying to figure out how to get Paul Martin involved in their powerplay after losing Sergei Gonchar this off-season. They are also without Jordan Staal at this point, so for once I know our center depth is exponentially better than theirs rather than being about even as usual.

Can’t wait for tonight, should be a great game. I’ll have more on the season as it goes on. Not much to say yet since they haven’t played, but I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about soon.

 

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Division Matchups Season Preview

The Atlantic Division has a lot different look this year as players from all 5 teams have come and gone since the end of last season. Besides hosting the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions, the Atlantic Division has some teams that could make a serious run and be very competitive amongst some of the best teams in the league. Today we join forces with Pat “Muncky” from A Clockwork Orange to talk about the teams where we will see lots of competitive and good hockey from this year.
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Are the Broad Street Bullies Back?

*Side note: Asham and Cote will be scratches tonight. Here are the Lines:

1st: Hartnell-Carter-Briere
2nd: Gagne-Richards-Pyorala
3rd: JVR-Powe-Giroux
4th: Carcillo-Betts-Ian Laperriere
D: Pronger-Carle; Timmonen-Coburn; Parent-Syvret

Tonight has been a long time coming. I can’t tell you the last time I was this excited about the Flyers starting. Last year was after a big ECF run and I was excited, but there’s something in the air with this team and I can feel it. It’s been over 30 long years since we hoisted a Stanley Cup over our heads. I wasn’t even alive back then, yet the memory lives on through remembering the Spectrum and that time period where the Broad Street Bullies ruled the hockey rinks they played in. Tonight the Flyers start their first two games of the season on the road versus a tough conference match-up in the Carolina Hurricanes and division rival New Jersey Devils. Then they have their home opener against the Capitals, followed by games hosting the Penguins and the Anaheim Ducks.
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Meet the New Flyers: “Welcome Back Boosh”

Any Flyers fan worth his salt remembers the playoff run of 2000. Finally getting to the Eastern Conference Finals after not reaching that point since 1997 when they won and got swept by the Red Wings in the Finals. After winning a deciding series against the Sabres and coming back to win four straight after dropping the first two games to the Penguins, the Flyers had all the momentum going into the Conference Finals versus their division rival the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers would go up 3-1 in that series, and then lose the next 3 consecutive games to lose in a series they had in the bag. However, one of the big moments of that playoff run was the goaltending of rookie goalie Brian Boucher. He had many memorable saves that season, including the one in the video above. He became a Philly fan favorite during his rookie year before losing the job to Roman Cechmanek the following year. In this final installment of “Meet the New Flyers”, we welcome back a former Flyer and favorite, Brian “Boosh” Boucher.
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Posted by on September 21, 2009 in Flyers Talk and Other, Season Previews

 

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Meet the New Flyers: “Lappy”

*Note: Sorry for the picture, that guy watching the fight is creepy as hell.

With the departure of forwards like Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble, there was all of a sudden more room and competition for two spots on the top two lines. Not only were we going to be missing Lupul’s goal scoring and Knuble’s net presence, but one part of our game that saw our top 3 forwards accumulate a lot of ice time was our penalty kill… something Knuble was a good part of. With the promise of a veteran forward who can play well on the penalty kill, establish a forecheck, and hopefully mentor guys like Dan Carcillo and Darroll Powe, the new Flyer we are talking about this week is the addition of Canadian forward Ian “Lappy” Laperrière.
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