Philadelphia Flyers: Why This Year Is the Year

John GehanCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 26:  Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers scores at 14:07 of the second period against Craig Anderson #31 of the Florida Panthers at the Wachovia Center March 26, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Even though it doesn’t seem like it, we Philadelphia Flyers fans are lucky. We have a squad that seems to make the playoffs year-in and year-out.

But we're disappointed, because while we play consistently good hockey, we come up short of the ultimate success.

Every year our city wants to relive the glory days of the "Broad Street Bullies." The 1970s gave us immortal figures like Dave Shultz, Rick MacLeish, Bill Barber, and Bernie Parent, along with consecutive Stanley Cups. We want to remember what that dominance was like, but we can't quite get there.

But you know what? These '09 Flyers are a special bunch, to say the least. Could they be the ones to bring the feeling rushing back?

This Philadelphia team has the perfect balance of grit and skill, size and agility, and experience and hunger. Of all my years watching the Flyers, this year looks the most promising.

For one thing, the depth of this team is amazing. Six players—and counting—have topped the 20-goal mark.

Rising stars like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards lead their team into battle each night.

Just take a look at Richards: This 5'11", 195-pound general doesn’t back down from anyone. He is one of the grittiest skilled players I have ever witnessed play the game of hockey. He is first on the team in assists (with 46,) and that is the reason he wears the "C."

But every general needs his soldiers.

Well, players like Arron Asham, Dan Carcillo (thanks, Phoenix,) and Riley Cote provide just that.

Jeff "Pretty Boy" Carter goes on the ice "mesh-bound" every night. Every team needs a diva, and the Flyers most certainly have theirs. Not to discredit Jeff, he will lay into the biggest bodies in the league, but he would rather poetically and gracefully create nightmares for opposing goalies.

Gagne, Hartnell, Knuble...as you go down the list, it is hard to find a weak spot.

Yeah, go ahead, say "goaltending," but Marty has been standing on his head, literally!

As for the postseason, I don’t see a team we cannot completely and utterly demolish if we play the way I know we can.

Yes, every time a Flyers fan hears "Devils," they don’t think of "south of heaven," they think of the group south of New York. New Jersey has always been a nemesis of our Philly club, especially in the '90s.

But mark my words: The Flyers will beat the Devils in five games, no matter what round.

What about Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston, etc.?

Out of that bunch, I worry only the tiniest bit about the Caps. But Ovechkin can pull his T.O. celebrations all he wants. He can score 50, 60, or 100 goals, for all I care.

Come playoff time, the Flyers will prevail.

We'll be having a parade down Broad Street in the next couple of months. I mean, we gotta use up the leftovers from the Phillies' celebration, right?