As the short pre-season winds down and the opener inches closer and closer, the Flyers roster is starting to take shape. Andreas Lilja and Brian Boucher have gone through waivers, and many prospects have been sent back to the Phantoms, such a Ty Mcginn. Guys like Eric Wellwood, Scott Laughton, Jody Shelley and Tom Sestito continue to battle for the final two spots on the Flyers roster, although bets are on Wellwood and Shelley nabbing the two final spots.
With the roster coming together and all, what can we realistically expect from each Flyer and all the line combinations? How will they play? How many points will they score? What kind of style will each line play? What will be each player's responsibility?
This line will be the Flyers top offensive threat, hands down. Although Voracek may or may not be on this line once the season begins, Hartnell and G must carry the offensive load no matter who is riding shotgun with them. This line will play against guys like Zdeno Chara, Dan Girardi and Dion Phaneuf all season long. They will be watch every by the opposing teams top line, whether it be Voracek, Briere or Schenn playing on the right wing.
We got to see this line a lot last season. The line worked well for the most part, but their chemistry must build if they wish to be a consistent offensive threat to opposing teams. B. Schenn is poised to burst out of his shell and become the offensive juggernaut we saw in juniors and in last years playoffs. He has all the tools to become the next Mike Richards. Simmonds must continue what he is doing by causing havoc in front and banging in loose pucks, and hopefully Briere can be more consistent that he was during last year's regular season. If these three can mesh well, we could have a two-headed monster as far as first lines go
This will be the Flyers shutdown line for the entire season. They will consistently be going up against guys like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Wellwood fits on this line because of his speed, defensive awareness and developing offensive skills. He may be a better fit than Fedotenko. Couturier will only continue to develop as a premier shutdown center in this league. His offensive game will develop as well. Read will probably do almost the same thing he did last season (barring a sophomore slump). He has to continue to be fast, quick on loose pucks and have the same finishing touch he had last season. If everything goes well, this young line will be incredibly tough to play against.
This fourth unit looks to be a very tough one to play against. Fedotenko will bring a veteran presence to the line (and team for that matter) and knows what to do on the fourth line. Talbot is a pure work horse. He gives it his all every shift, and will never give up on a play. He even found out that he can score quite consistently last season. Rinaldo is a guy who will hit everything that moves, and fight anyone who steps up to the plate. He has also been working on the penalty kill, making his presence even more valuable.
These two proved last season they can shut down other teams' top lines when they are on top of their game. Coburn played like a grade "A" defender during the playoffs last year, and Grossmann was steady even with his nagging injuries. If they can mesh as well as they did last season, these two are poised to be the Flyers' top pair.
Timonen is running on empty nowadays, there is no question. But his resiliency to never give up is nothing short of admirable. Timonen has a lot to offer to the team, on and off the ice, which is why he needs to be paired with Schenn. Timonen can mentor Schenn and guide him into being a premier defender. Schenn is a stay-at-home, hard hitting blue liner, while Kimmo is a speedy, smart, puck moving defender. There is no reason why this pairing wouldn't work.
This third pair will make up one of the most reliable third pairs in hockey right now. Mez can easily be a top-four guy, but the luxury of having him as a number five defense man is great. Meszaros is a big guy who can move the puck fast and move well for his size. He also has a fairly heavy shot. Foster is a guy who is perfect for the role the Flyers signed him for. He is a mammoth of a man, standing a six feet five inches, and isn't afraid to rough up apposing forwards. He also possesses an absolute cannon from the back-end, a welcomed addition to the Flyers' power play.
Ilya Bryzgalov (20-30 wins, .910-.920 save percentage)
Bryz will have a bounce back year. It will not be as ridiculous as last season. He will not be an all-star, but he will give the Flyers consistent goal tending now that he know what to expect form the Philadelphia crowd. Bryzgalov possesses a world of talent, he just needs to keep his head on a straight and stay out of the woods where his fears are (see what i did there ;) )
Michael Leighton (0-10 wins, .900-.910 save percentage)
Oh Michael Leighton, it seems that it was only yesterday in which i wanted to jump through the television and ring your neck for letting that goal in. But, lets let bygones be bygones shall we. In all seriousness, Leighton is a guy who can get on rolls and play like a starter. But he also has the tendency to absolutely imp-load and pay like a midget C goalie. As long as Bryz can carry most of the load and limit Leighton's role, there should be no problem.
Let me know what you guys think of my predictions.