Will the 2012-13 Season Be "Cup or Bust" for the Philadelphia Flyers?

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Will the 2012-13 Season Be
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Claude Giroux

The Philadelphia Flyers are one team that need the NHL lockout to end quickly, because they have a playoff-caliber roster.

But is it "Stanley Cup or bust" for them this season?

To label a season as "Cup or bust," winning a championship has to be the only expectation that fans and the media have for the team.

When you look at the Flyers' goaltending concerns and lack of depth on defense, it would be unfair to expect this team to be among the top contenders for the Stanley Cup during the 2012-13 season.

Therefore, it's not "Cup or bust" in Philadelphia in 2012-13.

Is it "Cup or bust" in Philadelphia this season?

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This could change if general manager Paul Holmgren makes a few trades or free-agent signings between the end of the lockout and the trade deadline, but right now the chances of the Flyers being able to beat the New York Rangers or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference playoffs aren't very good.

Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros, arguably the Flyers' three best defensemen, have all struggled with injuries at some point since the end of last season. In Pronger's case, he's been dealing with health problems going back to 2011, and his return doesn't seem likely.

Only Luke Schenn was added to the blue line in the offseason, and he is far from a reliable defenseman.

The team was also unable to adequately replace Jaromir Jagr, which has left the Flyers with less depth on the wings than they had during the 2011-12 season. The Flyers' bottom-six wingers cannot be expected to provide much scoring this season, so this is one area that Holmgren will need to improve.

The Flyers were in the bottom half of the league in goals against (20th) and penalty killing (17th) last year, and have made no significant improvements to address either of these weaknesses.

Winning the Stanley Cup will definitely be one of Philadelphia's goals this season; that's not uncommon for a team of veteran stars.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

However, without a reliable goaltender and with a blue line that is constantly battling injuries and lacks the ideal amount of depth, it would be unfair to expect the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13.

Many of the team's best players are still young, and some haven't even hit the prime of their careers yet.

If this was a talented but aging team that hadn't won the Stanley Cup after repeated failures in the playoffs, such as the San Jose Sharks, then it would be "Cup of bust" this season in Philly.

The Flyers do have some older players who will play important roles this season, but the team's young core is quite impressive and will help the team contend in the East for many years to come.

It's not "Cup or Bust" this year in Philadelphia, but that also doesn't mean that expectations will be low. Anything less than a return trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals is unacceptable.

For hockey news, analysis and opinion, follow NHL Columnist Nicholas Goss on Twitter.

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