FanPost

BSH Audition #2: Where do the Flyers stand in the Atlantic?

So far I've analyzed the Flyers as a whole, what I think is the biggest problem on the team, and made some suggestions and speculation on where the future of this team may go. Now It's about time to look at where the team stands in what I think is one of, if not the best, division in the league, the Atlantic Division, last season 4 teams made the playoffs (cmon Islanders, shape up!) and this season may not be too far off. Everyone talks about how good the Penguins are, how good the Rangers are on paper (as always) and how the Flyers are always good, but let's take a look at each facet of the game, I'll rank the teams in order of proficiency in that field and say a little bit about them, let the fun begin!

Forwards:

1. Philadelphia Flyers

2. New York Rangers

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

4. New York Islanders

5. New Jersey Devils

I had a tough time choosing on this one, this seems to be the strong point of the Atlantic Division. The Flyers have insane depth in the forward department, with a good mix of veterans and youngsters, The Flyers have one of those rare units where they can roll 3 forward lines that can score, and the checking lines can still play solid defense, Claude Giroux has exploded and become one of the best players in the league and made Scott Hartnell an all star, and looks to build with a younger, faster line with either Brayden Schenn or Jakub Voracek on the other wing, is the top line the best in the division? no that would go to the Rangers, but the depth of the Flyers offense puts them on top. All I hear about is how good the Penguins offense is, but I think a lot of people seem to forget that the Penguins this offseason traded one of the best two way forwards in the game, Jordan Staal. I feel that the loss of Staal will make a huge difference in the way the Penguins play in both ends. Brandon Sutter is a solid player, but he is no Jordan Staal, and I see the penguins depth on forward, despite the big 3 of Neal, Malkin, and Crosby, holding them back. The Rangers of course are in second, with a possibly one of the best first lines in the game with Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Rick Nash. They also have talented players like Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, and Derek Stepan on the team, the Rangers are now an offensive force, but they always choke anyway, right? at the bottom end, I put the Islanders ahead of the Devils, the Isles have guys like Okposo, Tavares, Grabner, and Moulson. The Devils have Kovalchuk and.....uhmm........yea they are not in good shape without Parise on offense.

Defense:

1. New York Rangers

2. New Jersey Devils

3. Philadelphia Flyers

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. New York Islanders

We all know the Flyers shortcomings on defense, the unit is aged at the top, has injury problems, and has problems in both ends, but lets not forget the last playoff series with the Penguins, where the Penguins proved that their defense is even worse than the Flyers! The lowly Islanders tried to help their defense, but now Lubomir Visnovsky doesn't even want to play for them, as he first tried to file a grievance and now doesn't want to come back from Russia, the Islanders have all kinds of problems from top to bottom. The Devils may not have the big names on defense, but they're always strong, have a good system, and stay healthy in front of Martin Brodeur. The Rangers just have a great defensive unit, just watching their games, they're strong, they can score, they're great in their own zone, and don't make Henrik Lundqvist face that many rebounds, they may very well be one of the best units in the league.

Goaltending:

1. New York Rangers

2. New Jersey Devils

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

4. Philadelphia Flyers

5. New York Islanders

Despite obvious inconsistencies, the Atlantic actually has very good goaltending, especially having the best goaltender in the world and one of the best tenders to ever play the game. The top of this list is not hard, King Henrik is the best goaltender in the world right now, hes been the most consistent goalie over the past few years and is just purely the best, and former Flyer Martin Biron is no slouch either, really succeeding in New York. Martin Brodeur's style has made him able to adapt to his old age and is still a pretty good goaltender, he and Johan Hedberg make a pretty good team and the Devils should supply very good goaltending for a depleted devils team. The Penguins and Flyers both have very inconsistent starters, Bryzgalov has to prove that he's worth his money or get bought out, and despite winning a cup, so does Fleury, who struggled at times last year and completely exploded in the playoffs, while Fleury and Bryzgalov I would see at the same level but the difference is the backup, which will be really important in a strike shortened season, Tomas Vokoun is still a very good goaltender and Michael Leighton has not played in the NHL in a while and we can only hope he can provide solid starts off the bench. As far as the Islanders go...Evgeni Nabokov is a very good goaltender, but there really isn't much of a backup, since Rick DiPietro can't stay on the ice, the Islanders better look for a backup goaltender, since DiPi won't last very long.

Coaching:

1. Philadelphia Flyers

2. New York Rangers

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

4. New Jersey Devils

5. New York Islanders

Coaches can make a big difference on a team, and I believe Peter Laviolette might be the best coach in our division. Laviolette brings a tough system based on speed, skill and conditioning, shorter season may or may not help this system, and Lavi's system fits so well with younger players so the teams young stars should be able to shine in the short season. John Tortorella is a great coach who has won a Stanley Cup, and is the second best coach in the division, coaching the Rangers to the first seed last season, should do the same this season. There's not a whole lot special about Dan Bylsma and Pete Deboer, but one has won a Stanley Cup and one hasn't, so that's how they sit on this list, they each do very well with the talent they have. A tell tale sign that the Islanders belong at the bottom of this list is that I had to look up that Jack Capuano is their coach, he's got his work cut out for him. In the end, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette sits at the top because of the effect he has on his team, Laviolette makes teams that he coaches for better, and his system, with the right players, makes for strong teams anywhere he coaches.

Conclusion and Final Rankings:

1. New York Rangers

2. Philadelphia Flyers

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

4. New Jersey Devils

5. New York Islanders

If things work out like they do on paper, which they rarely do, the Rangers will roll away with the division and the Flyers will be right there. The biggest key will be the Flyers defense staying healthy and well, the Rangers not choking. With all the talk that the Penguins will be going to the cup, top to bottom they really don't have that great of a team outside of Crosby, Malkin, and Neal. The Devils will suffer a ton from the loss of Parise and others, remember the last time the Devils were missing Parise? yea, wasn't good. The Islanders may be at the bottom right now, but they do have a talented offense and Nabokov is a very good goaltender still, if he can stay healthy, and they get Visnovsky back from Russia, maybe...just maybe...

Good Night. Good Hockey. Go Flyers.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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