The Philadelphia Flyers were built to compete in the playoffs and should of hoisted the 2012 Stanley Cup.
So, what went so wrong that sent the Flyers home after the second round of the playoffs?
It seemed that as the season progressed, more and more key players went down with severe injuries.
Many NHL teams sustain a good amount of player injuries during the course of a regular season. The Flyers lost key guys on both the offensive and defensive sides of their team.
Claude Giroux went down midseason with an apparent concussion that sidelined him for a good portion of the year.
The Flyers' top defenseman, Chris Pronger, went down in November of last season after he was checked hard enough to cause a concussion. The injury took him out for the rest of the season, a huge blow to the team.
Fellow teammate, Andrej Meszaros, who is also out this offseason after surgery on his Achilles tendon, said that it was a really big loss for a team like the Flyers (Via ESPN):
You can't replace the kind of guy he is. I hope he's going to be healthy as soon as possible and we'll have to find a way to win games without him. We've done a pretty good job so far but that's a tough break.
To name a few players that lost time because of injuries this season and in the postseason: Daniel Briere, Nicklas Grossman, James van Riemsdyk and Kimmo Timonen. Guys that meant a world of difference to a Flyers team that missed out on a Stanley Cup run.
Without these injuries, the Flyers would of had a deep team that could compete night in and night out; both offensively and defensively solid, even with the questionable goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov.
Heading into the playoffs, the Flyers were major underdogs against the feared Pittsburgh Penguins. That didn't stop the Flyers from pulling out a shocking 4-2 series win to advance to the next round. The offense shined as the Flyers were able to throw Sidney Crosby off his game.
But injuries started to slowly creep in from the wear and tear on the team.
The inconsistency of the Flyers led to their eventual downfall at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. Inconsistency that could of been avoided with a full and healthy Flyers roster.
It is hard to really say what caused so many Flyers to go down at key moments of the season. Giroux suffered a concussion after a freak accident, getting hit in the head by Wayne Simmonds' knee.
Some came from large checks along the boards or an errant puck shot a little too high; fatigue may also be a factor in some of these injuries.
Both Pronger and Giroux are leaders who are expected to shine in their respected positions. With captain Pronger being out indefinitely, possibly for his career, other players are expected to pick up the slack.
Would the Flyers have won the 2012 Stanley Cup if they were healthy?
The Flyers, if healthy, would have the perfect mix of scoring and shutdown defense that would make any team envious. New injuries may force the organization to find other players, and it may also lead to a little revamping on the third and fourth lines where more defensively-minded players are needed.
But for now, the Flyers will have to find ways to make up for key injuries and hope for the best in the 2012-2013 season.
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