Three games into the young NHL season and the Flyers stand 3-0. I attended the home opener on Wednesday, and the building was loud as ever. It’s almost as if Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were never there. All of the new faces have been contributing in their own ways, but there are a few of the new guys who really stand out. During player introductions and throughout the game, new players were treated just as warmly as older ones, but some more than others. I want to look at three new Flyers who really have made an impact not just on the ice, but in Flyers fans’ hearts as well.
He’s the goaltender this city has been waiting years for. So far, the Bryz has been as good as advertised, and has provided some awesome quotes to the media with his quirky sense of humor. He posted a shutout in the second game of the season at the Devils, something the 2010-2011 Flyers team could not do at all. If he can consistently keep us in games and maybe steal a game or two for us, Bryzgalov is well on his way to being beloved by Philly. He received a nice cheer during the player introductions, and plenty of them when he made some timely saves on the penalty kill.
I love this guy. When he came over in the Richards trade, I knew we had a prototypical Flyer on our hands but I was not sure exactly if he’d crack the lineup past the 3rd line. Well, here we are three games into the season and Simmonds is on our second line with Briere and Voracek, and sees extensive powerplay time. Simmonds is a young, energetic, talented hockey player. He goes to the dirty areas of the ice, and wreaks havoc in front of the net. Most scrums in front of the net start with this guy, and the fans love him. Every time he mixed it up or got in the middle of something, the fans cheered. I’ve seen some Simmonds jerseys popping up, and it won’t be long before we see more. And did I mention he could fight too?
For a player who was vehemently hated when he was on the other side, #68 has found that the City of Brotherly Love can be quite accommodating if you wear the right jersey. I grew up watching him kick our ass on the Penguins and the Rangers, and never really liked him. At 39 years old, Jagr has proven so far that he still has some in the tank and we’re all hoping he can go the distance this year. Now we’re not worried about having to take him off the puck because he’s on the good guys side for once. Along with Bryzgalov and Simmonds, I think Jagr is one of the new players who has really excited the fan base and draws most of the cheers. His intro and plays during the home opener were met with loud support and I’ve seen a LOT of Jagr jerseys. Probably the most out of any new player. Jagr has helped revitalized the powerplay that struggled so much last year with his great cycle game, and if he can continue playing a two-way game and contributing offensively, the Flyers should have a very successful year. His chemistry with Giroux is building, and if them two can find a way to fully get on the same page with VanRiemsdyk, this line could be one of the scariest in hockey.