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As the Flyers whiffed on Ryan Suter and Shea Weber while losing Matt Carle to the Lightning, the one optimistic thought fans could fall back on was, “well, at least we’re deep on the blue line.”
The team had an anchor of four proven defensemen (Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Nicklas Grossmann and Kimmo Timonen) to cycle in its top two pairs. Newly-acquired blueliner Luke Schenn, brother of Brayden, seemed a lock for the fifth spot.
The last spot could go to a mid-level veteran like Gervais and Lilja, or to one of Philly’s developing defensemen like Gustafsson, Bourdon or Manning.
Only weeks removed from losing out on some of the best defensemen in the league, the Flyers have seen Meszaros and Lilja require surgeries that will cost significant portions of the season.
Suddenly, Schenn’s responsibilities are greater. Timonen’s age is a bigger concern, as his burden of responsibility becomes greater as the defensemen around him become less reliable.
There is pressure on Gervais to look like a veteran and pressure on Gustafsson and Bourdon to look NHL-ready.
To the optimist, the Flyers once looked like a hierarchy of defensive ability, with a strong corps overseeing depth players and rising stars. Now, to the realist, the Flyers are looking more like a ragtag assembly of the guys who were available.