A full preview of what to expect next season for the Philadelphia Flyers...
The Flyers 2011-2012 season didn't end the way us Flyers fans wanted it to. What looked like a promising playoff run ended in a game 5 v.s. the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers beat the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 6 games. It was by far one of the most exciting series in hockey that I've ever seen. Flyers finished 5th in the Eastern Conference. The eastern conference has 16 teams in it, in which the top 8 make the playoffs. They had a pretty good regular season although they were a little streaky at times. Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, a former Phoenix Coyote, who was signed this offseason for 9 years along with 51 million dollars, was inconsistent. Hockey fans know that Bryzgalov is a good goaltender but just didn't have a great season. Later in the season, Bryzgalov, who Flyers fan often call “Bryz” surprised us all by setting the Flyers record in shutout streak. He passed former Flyers goaltender, John Vanbiesbrouck by not letting a puck past him during a span of 249 minutes and 43 seconds. Vanbiesbrouck, who's record was passed by Bryzgalov, went 227 minutes and 40 seconds without a goal against him. Bryzgalov's shutout streak ended against the New York Islanders when Michael Grabner scored 13 minutes and 30 seconds into the third period of a Flyers Islanders game. All I remember was getting a text two weeks in a row saying “Flyers Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov wins first star of the week” and just how great it was watching him play. Through the playoffs he wasn't so hot but the Flyers offense made them look like the best team in NHL history. Claude Giroux had 8 goals, 9 assists, and 17 points coming fourth in all of the NHL in points during the playoffs. He was behind Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, and Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils. All 3 of those players he was behind, were all part of the Stanley Cup. Flyers were knocked out 2nd round so there's no saying of how many points Giroux would've had if the Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Although his efforts didn't win him a Stanley Cup, he did win the Cover Vote for EA Sports NHL 13. He beat Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne in the final round of the voting. In the 2012-13 season you can expect huge numbers from Claude who led the Flyers in points for the whole regular seasons with 93 points, 28 goals, and 65 assists. The only player with more goals than him during the season was Flyers winger, Scott Hartnell. He was a enormous break out season scoring 37 goals. His previous career high was 30 in the 2008-09 season, his 2nd year with the Flyers. Hartnell, who played with the Nashville Predators 6 of the 11 years he's been in the NHL, has been great for the Flyers. Not only is he great in the clubhouse, he's been putting up tremendous numbers. The Flyers outscored the Penguins in the series 34-26 in the series in only 6 games. The Flyers moved on to the semi-finals against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers took game 1 in overtime, Briere was the hero in that game but the Flyers eventually lost the series in 5 games. It was a fun playoff run but it wasn't good enough. The Devils, who beat the Flyers in the semi-finals, went on to play the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final but ended up losing in 6 games.
The Flyers have new additions and unfortunately a couple players that are subtracted from the team. This offseason the Flyers came up mostly short so far. Sending huge contracts to both former Devils captain, Zach Parise and former Predators defenseman, Ryan Suter, both ended up signing with the Minnesota Wild. Parise and Suter are both signed for 13 years with the Wild, part of both of their contracts is that they'll both receive $98 million during their 13 years in Minnesota. That's not the only bad thing that happened to them during the offseason. The Flyers sent a 14 year offer sheet to Predators defenseman, Shea Weber worth $110 million. The Predators shocked the Flyers and us fans by matching the offer sheet. The Predators didn't wanna lose Weber, who is one of the best defensemen in the game after losing another top defenseman, Ryan Suter. The Flyers are a little short of guys like Weber who play good defense and can score goals after losing Chris Pronger to injury. The 37-year-old veteran has a concussion and his career is most likely over. He was huge part of the Flyers team. He won a Stanley Cup in the 2006-07 season with the Anaheim Ducks. Here are the Flyers defenseman so far for the 2012-13 season. Marc-Andre Bourdon, who's young and pretty solid defensively, Braydon Coburn, who's been with the Flyers since the 2006-07 season and plays good defense, Nicklas Grossmann, who is 6' 4” 230 pounds and plays great defense getting in the way of pucks and blocking shots, Erik Gustafsson, who is young and pretty decent, Kimmo Timonen, who is a 37-year-old veteran who can play great defense and play goals, Andrej Meszaros, who I think is the most underrated defenseman on the team, can score, and play great defense, Brandon Manning, a 22-year-old who is definitely going to develop into a great defenseman. There are also two new defenseman that the Flyers GM Paul Holmgren brought to the team. He signed 27-year-old Bruno Gevais who's played for the Islanders most of his career and a year previous to this season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Holmgren also traded young forward James van Reimsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the Flyers center Brayden Schenn's brother, Luke. Luke Schenn, just like Brandon Manning is 22-years-old. Luke is an established NHL defenseman and he's still got time to develop. Although the Flyers did lose defenseman Matt Carle after he was signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, they still have options. All-in-all the Flyers defense looks pretty good right now.
One thing the Flyers don't need to be concerned about, is offense. They have a lot of talent in their offense. The only addition to their offense so far is Ruslan Fedotenko. Fedotenko has played with the Flyers before in the 2000-2001 season, and the 2001-2002 season. Although he's played most of his career with the Lightning, he's also played for the Islanders, Penguins, and Rangers. He has 169 career goals. It was a solid pick-up for the Flyers. There a few very young forwards who I think will have great seasons. 19-year-old Sean Couturier is one of them. He scored 13 goals, 14 assists, and 27 points in his first season in the NHL this year. He's shown signs of great talent. I'm sure he'll have an amazing 2012-13 season. Another young player is 20-year-old Brayden Schenn who was acquired when the Flyers traded Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings before the season. Schenn has always been a top prospect. He scored his first NHL goal in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies in the annual outdoor game. He added 13 goals after that which gave him 14 on the season. He will definitely contribute a lot to the Flyers this season. 22-year-old Jakub Voracek who the Flyers received before the 2011-12 season in the Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets trade, scored 18 goals, 31 assists, and 49 points in the regular season. He also has the over time goal in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Flyers and Penguins. He will most likely have great numbers in the 2012-13 season. 26-year-old rookie, Matt Read became a fan-favorite after showing great talent scoring 24 goals, 23 assists, and 47 points during the season. He made a case for the rookie-of-the-year award. Even he felt like he wasn't a true rookie because of his age but he will be a big part of the Flyers offense in the future. The most underrated out of all the Flyers young players is 23-year-old Wayne Simmonds who was also part of the deal that sent Mike Richards to the Kings. Giroux tied 2nd on the team in the 2011-12 season in goals with Claude Giroux with 28 on the year. Simmonds is a very hard working player and I love watching him play. He along with Giroux are my favorite Flyers. Along with the 28 goals he had 21 assists adding up for 49 points. The Flyers have young talent along with older, more experienced players such as: Danny Briere, who spent most years with the Phoenix Coyotes then the Buffalo Sabres, came to the Flyers in the 2007-08 season. Maxime Talbot is also another player who contributed for the Flyers last season. He signed with the Flyers in the offseason before the 2011-12 season after playing his whole career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the Flyers biggest rivals. You have to respect a player who does something like that. He signed with the rival which was us. He scored 19 goals which was a career high for him beating his 12 goals in both the the 2007-08, and 2008-09 seasons with the Penguins. What surprised Penguins fans most of all is future hall of famer Jaromir Jagr signing with the Flyers. It surprised everyone because the Penguins offered him a contract. He played for the Penguins for 11 seasons (1990-2001). He played for the Capitals 3 years, the Rangers for a year, played in Russian Super League (RSL) for a couple years, then returning to the Rangers for 3 more seasons before playing for Avangard Omsk, a KHL league team for 3 seasons. Jagr is 8th in NHL all time points leader and 13th in all time goals leader. Penguins fans now hate him for signing with the Flyers. We loved him here in Philadelphia though. His line dominated. The line was Hartnell, Giroux, and Jagr. Jarmoir scored 19 goals and 35 assists adding up to 54 points for the 2011-12 season. Unfortunately they Flyers weren't still interested in Jagr because of the price he wanted for a new contract. The Dallas Stars ended up signing him for 1 year and $4.5 million. The Flyers have young and possible upcoming players like: Ben Holmstrom, Tye McGinn, Eric Wellwood, Harry Zolnierczyk, Matthew Ford and they have enforcers like: Zac Rinaldo, Tom Sestito, Jody Shelley, and Blair Betts who is out with an injury. The Flyers goalies will be Ilya Bryzgalov along with back-up Michael Leighton who was a big part in the Flyers 2010 success when they made the Stanley Cup but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games. Leighton has been in the AHL with the Flyers affialiate Adirondack Phantoms, formally the Philadelphia Phantoms. The previous back-up was Sergei Bobrovsky who fans called “Bob.” He was a great guy but he was recently traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. I am happy for him because he deserves a starting job and I think he'll do very well with them this season. The 32-year-old starting goaltender for the Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov went 33-16-7 in W-L-OTL in the 2011-12 season with 59 games played, a save percentage of .909 and a goals against average of 2.48, had an inconsistent year but put up decent numbers. I think he'll have a great 2012-13 season.
If Bryzgalov is consistent and our young players break out the Flyers will be the team to beat in the east this upcoming season as long as the defense is also consistent. All-in-all the Flyers have a good team and I'd say we're definitely a team who can win a Stanley Cup this year. The 2012-13 Flyers are going to be a fun team to watch.