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30 Teams in 30 Days: Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers will be looking to build upon last year’s success when they advanced to the conference finals only to be dominated by their cross-state rivals in Pittsburgh in an unimpressive 5 game series.  With largely the same nucleus in place, there is no reason to believe that this year’s team will not be one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams.   However, last year’s top teams in the East, including the Penguins and Habs, have also largely held their nucleus intact, so look for the Flyers to be a dog fight until the end.

Forwards:

The Flyers possess one of the most dynamic and talented group of forwards in the NHL finishing 5th last season in goals scored.  That’s pretty impressive, especially considering that Simon Gagne, one of the purest snipers in the game, played only 25 games because of concussion problems.  After not playing hockey for months, Gagne has received the green light and early reports indicate that he has not lost a step.  A healthy Gagne, who amassed 88 goals in the preview 2 seasons, will provide the Flyers with that 1-2 punch on the top line that the Flyer’s brass envisioned when they brought in the terrific playmaking abilities of Danny Briere during the 2007 offseason.   A healthy Gagne will also fill the void left by the departed R.J. Umberger who emerged as one of the team’s top forwards in the playoffs.  Flyers fans (and I – I have Gagne in my 4 year hockey pool) will be holding their collective breath that Gagne’s concussion problems will not continue and will not jeopardize this  terrific  player’ s career like former Flyer’s Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau.

Let’s not forget the Flyer’s gems from the  2003 Entry Draft, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.  Richards is arguably one of the top two-way forwards in the game.  He is certainly one of the best penalty killers and he ended up leading the team in scoring last year.  With another year under his belt, look for the new team captain to continue leading his team with his passionate and relentless play.

Jeff Carter and Joffrey Lupul will both likely hit the 30 goal mark this season.  Carter finished last season with 29 goals while Lupul finished with 20 in an injury-riddled season.  Armed with freshly signed multi-year contracts, Carter and Lupul will help keep the Flyers among the league leaders in team scoring.

Throw in the grittiness of Scott Hartnell, the speed of Scottie Upshall and Knuble’s ability to find the back of the net, the Flyer’s forwards will certainly give opposing team’s defence some headaches this season.

Defence:

The Flyers will have to hope that their team enjoys the same offensive success as last year, because their  defensive corp is not as strong.  Timonen is a reliable quarterback on the power play as he demonstrated last season when he tallied 8 goals and 36 assists.  The Atlanta Thrashers probably wish they had the right to rescind trades, because Brayden Coburn emerged as a solid defender for the Flyers last season.  Finishing with a team-best +17, the Flyers will rely on Coburn to shutdown the opposing teams’ top forwards.

Derian Hatcher is old and is not the same player he once was, but he does bring the leadership that this young team needs.  Randy Jones fills out the top 4.  The Flyers are hoping that Ryan Parent will be able to replace Jason Smith and Bryan Berard, a training camp invitee, will likely fill the final spot.

Goal:

Martin Biron enters this season as the undisputed starting goaltender.  The Flyers rode Biron’s strong play down the stretch and in the playoffs and there is no reason to believe that the Flyers won’t be able to count on him again.  While he is not one of the league’s elite goaltenders, the Veteran Biron will provide solid goaltending every night and will even steal a few games the team doesn’t deserve to win.

Prediction:

Ceiling:  4th in the Eastern Conference (not good enough to beat the Penguins)
Floor:  6th in the Eastern Conference

Papers Update:

2 charged after fight in crowd at Winnipeg Jets game leaves man bloodied at bottom of stairs.

https://illegalcurve.com/winnipeg-jets-morning-papers-3696/

Papers Update:

Scheifele back to being a game-changer for Jets.

https://illegalcurve.com/winnipeg-jets-morning-papers-3696/

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