Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010-11 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

2010-11 Prediction 4th Eastern Conference

If there is a such a thing in this world as a successful disappointment, then the Flyers' 2009-10 season would surely qualify. For much of the season, things looked bleak. A playoff spot was not secured until game 82 ended in a shootout. While the hockey world ooh'd and ahh'd over Washington and Pittsburgh, Philly quietly gritted their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. If you stopped right there, many fans would consider this a huge success. The problem is, this is Philadelphia. Expectations are high, and nothing short of bringing the Cup back to Broad Street is considered a success. This team often gets lost in the glaring spotlight that shines on the Caps and Pens in the East. Even if you don't want to admit it, Philly has a young and talented team overall. Personally, I believe the best thing to happen for this team was hiring Peter Laviolette as coach. He emphasizes playing the game tough, but makes sure this team keeps it composure. In the past, this has been the Achilles' Heel of the squad.  Philly is strong on defense, with Chris Pronger, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Kimmo Timonen leading the way. Forwards such as James Van Remsdyk and Claude Giroux are young up and comers while Daniel Carcillo and Scott Hartnell stir the pot. Add Nikolai Zherdev (back from Russia's KHL), sprinkle in Mike Richards wearing the "C" with some Jeff Carter and you have a strong core up front. Dont' forget that Daniel Briere answered his critics by leading last season's playoffs in points. One area where Philly comes up short on paper is between the pipes. Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton do not exactly strike fear in shooter's hearts, so look for them to attempt to upgrade at some point. Now that this young team knows what it is capable of, they will work hard to join the conversation with Washington and Pittsburgh as the elite of the Eastern Conference.

Player to Watch: F Nikolai Zherdev