For an avid lifelong Flyers fan, such as myself, every year has been "The Year." No matter whether the GM is Bobby Clark or Paul Holmgren, the Flyers are always top competitors, and regular participants in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That is because the front office is always looking to win the Cup, and is rarely (if ever) looking to win draft picks like our same state rivals. Just like every other Flyers fan, beat reporter, and blogger in SB Nation, Bleacher Report and so on, I believe this is: "The Year."
After the Jump I will state my opinions on why.
1) Defense - "Defense wins championships" is a cliche in every major sport. When you look at the Flyers current roster, on paper, the defense looks incredible. Not only do the Flyers have veterans such as Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen; who both are known for producing both offensively and defensively thrioughout their careers. But the team also has two defensemen who are entering the prime of their NHL careers. I am talking about Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle.
A recent blog that I read likened Braydon Coburn to a mini Chris Pronger. I would have to agree with this statement. Coburn had a very strong playoff run, and looks like he is poised to play even better. He looked more physical, in the pre-season games I was able to watch, and almost looks like he has a little bit of swagger. Maybe Coby gained some confidence by making it to the Cup Finals. Confidence that will be welcomed by teammates and fans alike. I am looking forward to watching his play this year.
Matt Carle, who is coming off of a career year, seems to have gained a little more offense to his game. I believe that once he hones this part of his game, he can pick up some of the offense lost in the Gagne trade, from the blueline.
Add the veteran presence of Sean O'Donnell, Andrej Meszaros, and even Matt "Effing" Walker(?!) to this list and you have a very potent defense.
Sidenote: Did anyone notice that "Meszaros" means "butcher" in Hungarian? That would be a cool shirt idea, Kreider.
2) Claude Giroux - I don't think that I need to go into too much detail as to why he has a hand in this year being "the Year," but I will anyway. First off, he is definitely going to break out of his shell this year, which could mean the departure of a key veteran forward to make room for his impending superstar sized salary. I am OK with that. Giroux is going to be a PPG forward, who plays prolifically at both the wing and center. He also has a defensive upside. "G" could go down as one of the most creative forwards of all time. Not only is his passing top notch, which generally comes from all parts of the rink and ends up right on the tape, but his dangling and shootout attempts are only getting better with time.
He will most likely be paired up with Nikolay Zherdev for most of the season. Which brings me to my next point.
3) Nikolay Zherdev - The Flyer formerly known as Nikolai (sorry I had to) is going to be our best off season acquisition. While there are pleanty of reasons to hate his game, i.e. lazyness, lack of defense, and his mental state, he has something to prove this year. I expect that because of this he may actually try and play some defense. I hope that he does. Not to mention his offensive upside is incredible. When you have a player like Giroux saying that Zherdev has the best hands of anyone he has seen, that's a pretty big compliment. If Ovechkin is asking you to stay and play, that also proves how good you are. If you haven't already, check out some of the Youtube videos on this guy. They are rather impressive.
Maybe I am just too positive about his game, but I really believe that Zherdev is a good fit for this team as well. You can't have a team full of Richards and Lappys. You need some pure scorers out there who take risks and put the puck in the net.
4) Sergei Bobrovsky - The hype is warranted. "Bob" as everyone is calling him, is going to be on the team this year. I don't care what you say about having him develop in the AHL and work on the North American game. He is an NHL caliber goalie already. I agree with those who would rather see him blocking shots over bench warming, but why does he have to be a bench warmer? We already have two career back-ups in Leighton and Boucher, so why not just play Bob? Don't get me wrong, I love Boosh and am greatful for what Leights did for us last season, but Bobrovsky is ready to play on this team. Homer alluded to this as well, when he compliments the KHL for being the second best league in the world. Why would you want a goalie who is the future of the franchise to take a step down and play in the AHL?
Going back to my first point, we have the best defense in the league, on paper anyway. This defense was designed to allow less shots and scoring attempts. I believe that this is a definite sign that Bob is perfect to play on this team.
5) Peter Laviolette's System - With a full training camp under this system I believe that it is possible for the Flyers to really produce some goals with this system, due to the aggressive forecheck involved. The left wing lock is also a more defensive system, that if every player can master, will prove to put more wins on the board. The Flyers are built to play solid defense and to be offensive threats when the time calls for it. A full season under this system gets me hyped up for October 7th.
This is my first FanPost here on Broadstreethockey.com, and I am looking forward to your comments. I hope that you enjoyed reading this and it wasn't a waste of time. - Hartmanzord
PS - Let's get some inline games going. Kreider and I live in the same area, and told me that it is always a good time. Find me on facebook, David Christopher Hartman, and add me so that we can try and set something up.