NHL Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons the Flyers Can Win the Stanley Cup
It's hard to believe it, but it's been 37 years since the Philadelphia Flyers last won the Stanley Cup.
On May 27, 1975, the Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabers 2-0 behind a shutout by Bernie Parent to win their second consecutive championship.
The Flyers have been back to the Finals six times since then in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010, but each time they've fallen short.
The Flyers believe that this may be the year that the franchise's long drought finally ends. Here are five reasons why Philadelphia hockey fans are optimistic about their team's chances of winning the Stanley Cup in 2012.
The Flyers Have Depth Up Front
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a marathon, not a sprint. A team has to win 16 games to win the ultimate prize and it takes nearly two months to complete the playoffs.
Over the course of this long postseason, the depth of every team is tested. The top scorers on each team are often shadowed and matched up against top defensive players. As a result, secondary scorers must step forward to score key goals.
The Flyers have depth up front with role players like Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Max Talbot, who are all capable of scoring a key goal or filling in on the top lines in case of injury.
Few teams have as much scoring depth as Philadelphia.
The Flyers Have One of the Game's Best Clutch Players
Some players are known as clutch performers. When the game is on the line, they step up and come through, leading their team to key victories.
The Flyers have one of the best playoff performers in the game in Danny Briere.
Briere is a good regular-season player, with 643 points in 813 career regular-season NHL games.
But when the playoffs get underway, Briere takes his game to another level. During the course of his career, the 35-year-old Gatineau, Quebec native scores at a point-a-game pace: 106 points in 104 career postseason games.
Briere scored the game-winner in Game 1 against the Devils. If he continues to score key goals like that, the Flyers have a chance to win it all this year.
The Flyers Have a Good Mix of Youth and Veterans
A successful Stanley Cup winning club usually needs both the enthusiasm and energy of younger players and the experience and wisdom of veterans who have been through the postseason battles before and know what to expect.
The Flyers have plenty of both on their roster. Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen are wily veterans while Wayne Simmonds, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux represent younger players who play key roles for Philadelphia.
The Flyers Have Players Who Have Won the Cup
Most championship teams in hockey have players on their roster who have won the Stanley Cup before. These players lead the way and keep the team balanced during the ups and downs of the long playoff process.
The Flyers have a few players with Stanley Cup rings and plenty more with a lot of experience in the playoffs.
Jaromir Jagr won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Penguins early in his career. Max Talbot won with Pittsburgh in 2009. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was on the 2007 Anaheim Ducks team that lifted Lord Stanley's hardware and veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina won it all with the Lightning back in 2004.
These veteran leaders give the Flyers plenty of know-how as they get deeper and deeper into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Bryzgalov Has Playoff Experience
While most experts view goalie Ilya Bryzgalov as a question mark, the fact is that the Flyers' high-priced goalie has a better playoff resume than most people would expect.
In 16 playoff games with the Anaheim Ducks, Bryzgalov posted a 9-5 record and three shutouts, tying for the postseason lead. He was also a part of the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup championship team.
For his career entering this season, Bryz has a playoff GAA of 2.55, which may be good enough on a team with the offensive firepower of the Flyers to deliver a Stanley Cup.
The Flyers have come close in recent years with journeyman goalies like Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher.
Bryzgalov is better than many of the lower-priced goalies who led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in recent years, and may be enough of an improvement to finally get them over the hump in 2012.