The 2012-13 season comes with high expectations for the Philadelphia Flyers—as does every year—but in order for those to be met, certain players need to step up their game.
We are not talking about Claude Giroux or Kimmo Timonen, as those players have already shown that they can be leaders on the team. In order for the team to really excel, there need to be new faces that can bring something extra to the ice and in the dressing room.
So here are three players, one from each position, that need to make sure they are at the top of their game and are able to lead the Flyers to the promised land this year.
Ilya Bryzgalov may be the best leader inside the dressing room, who knows? However, when it comes to his play on the ice, it needs to be adjusted for next season. He needs to prove his worth for the Flyers.
Although Bryzgalov did not play that badly for the Flyers last season, consistency was his biggest downfall. He had streaks where he was able to play well, and then streaks where he did not look like a No. 1 goalie on a team that was expected to compete for a Stanley Cup with him between the pipes.
Next season Bryzgalov needs to make sure that his teammates can expect him to play well every night, and that he will be there to bail them out should they make a mistake.
A strong goalie who is also a leader in the net means that everyone on the ice can concentrate and play the game they are accustomed to playing—and not have to worry that their mistakes will turn into goals.
With the future of Chris Pronger in doubt, Braydon Coburn needs to step up and become a big-time player for the Flyers. He is fortunate enough to have Kimmo Timonen to help him control the reins for next season, but eventually he will be gone as well—even now his age may limit what he is able to do.
Coburn is the future backbone of the Flyers, and he needs to show it this season. Hopefully he has learned from Pronger, and can also continue to learn from Timonen for one more year, what it takes to be a leader.
The 2012-13 season needs to be the one that Coburn begins to take control of the Flyers' blue line.
He needs to play with more force in the defensive end, and if he can contribute in the point department then that would be a bonus. He will be depended on a lot more with the absence of Pronger, and will need to develop a voice in the dressing room—if he already has not.
The stars have aligned for Coburn to become a force in the Flyers lineup, and this year is an important one for him to become a leader.
He does not have to be a dominant leader yet, but there have to be signs that he is going to become one. The Flyers will need him in the very near future, and the upcoming season is important for Coburn to show he can handle it and that the Flyers do not need Shea Weber.
The Flyers' front end has everything it needs to be able to put up goals, but more importantly it needs a guy like Wayne Simmonds to bring in some toughness. They need to make sure they can balance offensive flair with some some typical Flyers-brand hockey.
Simmonds is coming off his first full year wearing a Flyers jersey and should be primed to make even more of his time with Philadelphia. Last season he was able to put up 49 points while playing in all 82 games.
However, it is not his point total where Simmonds makes his mark on the ice, it is his relentless in-your-face style that he brings night in and night out.
Simmonds provides that extra bit of grit, that ability to get under the best players' skin. He needs to make sure he masters this role and is able to create room for the star players on Philadelphia to do their thing.
Simmonds is the type of player that you would always want on your team, and the guys in the room are going to look up to him for what he is able to provide on the ice. He can use that influence to be a leader in the room—someone that the rest of the time will respect and listen to.