Flyers Off to a Quick Start
Although, for a fan, it is absurd to get too high or too low three games into an 82-game season Flyers fans can't help themselves.
For the first time since 1998 the Philadelphia Flyers have a started a season 3-0. What is more impressive is the way they have done it.
In the season opener the Flyers completely shut down a talented Carolina Hurricanes team in their home opener in front of a raucous crowd. Ray Emery, in his first game as a Flyer, recorded a shutout, and Mike Richards and Jeff Carter delivered the game's only goals.
The Flyers then traveled north to their own personal House of Horrors, The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey to face the defending Atlantic Division Champs, the New Jersey Devils.
Everything seemed to point to a Devils victory. The Flyers had been historically dismal at the Prudential Center. The Devils were sure to be fired up for their home opener and the Flyers were sure to be heavy-legged in the back end of back-to-back games to open their season. And to top it all off it was future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur's 1,000th NHL game.
Then the game started. The Flyers cruised to a 5-2 victory. All four lines scored for the balanced Flyers and Ray Emery looked solid in net for the second consecutive night.
After a couple nights off the Flyers returned to the Wachovia Center ice for their own home opener against the Washington Capitals whom, much like the Flyers, have Stanley Cup aspirations.
The pace of play was nothing like the Flyers' previous two outings. Both teams went back and forth in a highly entertaining contest. It wasn't that either team's defenses were awful, it's just their offenses are that good. On the strength of a Mike Richards hat-trick and Danny Briere's game winner in OT, the Flyers outlasted the Caps 6-5 and raised their record to 3-0.
Again, it's only three games but it's hard not to get a little excited.
So far, here are the impressions I'm getting from this team thus far:
-Ray Emery is the real deal. His athleticism keeps him in every play and he is rarely out of position. This team is confident playing in front of Emery, unlike when a shaky Martin Biron occupied the pipes. Look for Emery to get a new contract during the Olympic break.
-Chris Pronger is as advertised. The guy is a stud and he elevates everyone's play around him.
-The additions of Blair Betts and Ian LaPierrere are invaluable. They are great penalty killers and make-up two-thirds of a dangerous fourth line that shuts down opponents top lines and can score goals. A far cry from the days of Riley Cote/Arron Asham-led fourth lines.
-I see why JVR was a second overall pick. This season will have ups and downs for him, but I see a bright future for the big left winger.
-Danny Briere is healthy and that's a great thing for the Flyers. I expect a 25-goal, 60-assist season from Briere this year.
-Mika Pyorola is talented. Joffrey Lupul who??
-I'm afraid Braydon Coburn is a bust. He had a great year in 2007 and was deemed the greatest trade thievery in Flyers history. He followed it up with a very disappointing year in 2008 and has looked horrendous through three games. He looks scared with the puck and passive in his own zone.
I knew on paper the Flyers were a Cup contender. After watching them that is confirmed. If they remain healthy (knock on wood) this team will be tough to beat in a seven-game series. We all will know more as the weeks go by.
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