As I sit around watching postseason hockey, gazing at the Lindros and Richards autographs on my wall, I start to think. With a revamped NHL next year, and Orange fans thirsty for more hockey, how good are our chances at seeing postseason action? With the Stanley Cup matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks approaching, what changes do we need to make to get back to the success were used to? With divisional changes, as well as the addition of a former Flyer now acting as a European Scout, this upcoming season could provide all the right tools and necessities needed to bring the powerhouse back into Philadelphia. Of course, modifications are needed within the Flyers line-up and bench, such as solving the weaknesses within their blue line and finding an aggressive accomplice for winger Scott Hartnell. This being said, coaching staff definitely has their work cut out for them.
When it comes to divisional changes, the Flyers will only prosper from this new alignment. Revising the old system from two conferences with six divisions to two conferences with four divisions seats the Flyers in Division D. Mostly based on geographical locations, these new divisions will only ignite greater rivalries between our boys and the retched Rangers, Devils, and Capitals. By cutting down the travel costs of teams, the NHL is hoping to regain momentum and make-up for lost time due to the lock out.
Enough about the NHL, let’s get down to business. In order for the Flyers to even dream of postseason play, they need to get tougher. I’m talking good old fashioned mental toughness. When the Flyers are up, they play good hockey. Not solid hockey, but good hockey. They can’t afford to give up a three goal lead over teams like we did against Pittsburgh either. When it came down to it, defense was our downfall. On average, the Flyers are ranked twenty-fifth in the league, boasting a 3.00 Goals Against Average. Naturally, Bryzgalov would be to blame as his inconsistency in the net has hurt us greatly. But defenders Timonen and Schenn can’t do it alone either. (And, with talk of Kimmo retiring after this season, it’s do or die for the blue line this year). My advice, start Steve Mason. He’s younger than Bryzgalov, pissed off that he’s seen as the number two goalie and has something to prove. Add up those three aspects together, and you get an aggressive, confident goaltender. After all, it was Mason who led the Flyers with 38 saves to a 4-2 win over the Rangers April 16th lifting some small aspect of hope for postseason play.
The addition of Antero Niittymaki as a European Scout gives the Flyers an edge with eyes overseas for fresh talent. A previous Flyer goaltender for seven years, Niittymaki loves this city, and knows how the program is run, and who will fit the gap.
Ultimately, there is hope fellow fans that our thirst for a Stanley Cup will be quenched soon. Returners Simmonds, Schenn, Couturier, Rinaldo, and Laughton are young and eager for the ice. Talk of Gagne’s return eases the pain that we might lose Timonen after this season. Once Laviolette makes the needed change in net, and defense get’s their act together, we will finally be playing as a unit. So brush the cobwebs off those jersey’s, and start chilling your mugs boys, there’s major moves on the horizon for our Flyers.