Hockey is back baby! We’ve reached the end of September and we’re only a few days away from the Global Series game and the start of the regular season. A new season means a fresh start for everyone and there are huge expectations on this team this year. The Flyers missed the playoffs last year and if they miss the playoffs again this year it would be a huge failure. I would even say just making the playoffs and getting eliminated in the first round would be a failure for this team. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are not getting any younger so the time to perform is now.
For Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers, a big focus this off-season was to lower goals-against and improve special teams. Fletcher wasted no time this summer and time will tell if the acquisitions are the right ones. All the big additions this summer had at least one thing in common: Experience.
Kevin Hayes - Responsible defensively, kills penalties, 381 NHL games.
Matt Niskanen - Responsible defensively, kills penalties, 881 NHL games.
Justin Braun - Responsible defensively, kills penalties, 607 NHL games.
Stats from Eliteprospects.com
Alain Vigneault – Coached in 1216 NHL games.
Michel Therrien - Coached in 814 NHL games
Mike Yeo – Coached in 482 NHL games
Stats from hockey-reference.com
Does this mean the Flyers will finally be good? I have no idea, but they won’t lose because of lack of experience that’s for sure.
So what are my expectations for the 2019-2020 season?
The kids slotting into the right roles
When I look at the current team I cant help but think: wow, this team is probably the best team on paper they’ve had in a very long time, especially if Carter Hart can build on his impressive rookie season. It would be extremely refreshing if they could get off to a good start for once and not have to make a huge push at the end of the year to make the playoffs. I think the additions Fletcher has made will help younger players like Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim slot into more comfortable roles and they wont have to be relied on too heavy in roles they are not ready for yet. The same thing can be said for the Hayes signing. We all hope Nolan Patrick will take a step forward this season and adding Hayes as the second line center gives the Flyers much more center depth and allows Patrick to develop at his own speed.
I’m personally not thrilled about the Flyers re-signing Brian Elliott but I also don’t think there were a lot of options out there so it is understandable he was resigned. I don’t have faith in him staying healthy but I’m praying that he will because the last thing this team needs is to run Carter Hart into the ground, which is also called “pulling a Dave Hakstol.”
The depth of the Flyers will be tested straight from the start because they will begin the season without Nolan Patrick, who just a few days ago was diagnosed with migraine disorder and he’s listed as week-to-week at the moment. This obviously makes the signing of Kevin Hayes even more important because they need (in my opinion) to do everything in their power to keep Claude Giroux at left wing with Sean Couturier, and if they didn’t have Hayes as the second line center i’m pretty sure that Alain Vigneault would move Giroux back to center.
It looks like of all the young top forward prospects only one will make the team and it is Joel Farabee. Farabee is pretty much a guarantee to make the team at this point and he deserves a spot. He has created a lot of grade A chances but he just hasn’t managed to put the puck in the net so far. Perfect Flyera if you ask Flyers twitter. Farabee isn’t the only young player to make a good impression on the new coaching staff. While we all thought it would be players like German Rubtsov and Morgan Frost that had a chance to make the team, it looks like Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski will find themselves with roster spots, at least for now. I don’t think it will be too long before we see one of Frost and Rubtsov with the team, though.
Flyers lines today:— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) September 28, 2019
Pitlick and Stewart alternated in different lines
Powerplay looking spicy
If you follow me on Twitter how much I hate when they play Giroux on the right wing and Voracek on the left wing when on the powerplay. I will say this though: I love what I've seen during preseason where they have used different setups. The first game against the Rangers we saw them use three different setups during the same powerplay. This is exactly what they need to do because the last few years they’ve been way too predictable. I’m hoping for more plays where Giroux goes behind the net and quarterbacks the powerplay from there.
New veterans looking great?
Normally veteran players don’t look that great during preseason games — you can almost tell they are just waiting for the real season to start — but in the limited time I’ve seen the new veteran guys in action I gotta say I like what I’ve seen. There was a lot of hatred from the Flyers fan base when they acquired Justin Braun from the San Jose Sharks and Matt Niskanen from the Washington Capitals, mostly because of the price they paid, but also because they didn’t have a great year last season. I think those two and and Kevin Hayes have all looked good so far and hopefully that’s something that continues.
Be a fucking Flyer
I really like what I’ve seen from Alain Vigneault so far. It’s difficult to mention exactly why because It’s a a lot of different things; I really liked the way he adapted when he realized the team wasn’t improving enough in the middle of the preseason and decided to make roster cuts earlier than planned. This obviously means the veteran players get more preseason action. The Flyers are known to have slow starts so it’s very nice to see a coach adapt and hopefully this means the team will be ready right out of the gate.
It’s also the fact that he wants this team to play fast-paced attacking hockey which is something they have not done a lot of the past few years, and last thing I’ll mention is that I really like his honesty with the media.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly how things pan out but it’s been a good start for the new Flyers head coach. It feels like this team is being coached by an actual NHL coach this year, so that’s a nice change.
Also: The ‘Behind the Glass’ documentary on NHL Network is a must watch for all Flyers fans.