First off I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read this article! My opinion tends to be referred to as non-biased by my readers. Having said that, I am a die-hard Flyer's fan and I would be an idiot to…
a) Not recognize how well the Flyers have done under goalie Mike Leighton
b) Not feel bad for Brian Boucher and his lack of performance in the absence of front man ‘Sugar’ Ray Emery or
c) Not look forward to the return of the once shunned goaltender from "Canada's Capitol!"
There are undoubtedly a variety of factors that can be used as blame towards the Flyer's performance thus far.
First and foremost is the absence of both Emery and left winger Simon Gagne. Not having them in the line up was definitely a major factor in the firing of former Coach John Stevens. I feel that John was an intellect in certain aspects of hockey and lacked leadership, discipline, and motivation.
He is not necessarily the vocal leader and experienced mentor that newly appointed Coach Peter Laviolette is starting to become for the Fly and the young nucleus of this team
Offseason additions of Emery and Pronger definitely came at a cost. Giving up such names as future prospect Luca Sbisa and veterans Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, and Scottie Upshall, not to mention future draft picks, as well as both our goaltenders Martin Biron and Antero Niittymäki.
Obviously the salary cap has had us up against the wall over the past two or three seasons but that is not an excuse but more of a realization of the actions made by GM Paul Holmgren and his management team.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Flyers will dominate in 2010. Not only do I feel they will be a top competitor amongst teams in the Atlantic Division but I also feel they will be a pesky/gritty rival towards such teams as Washington, Buffalo and New Jersey.
Will the State rivalry between the Pens and the Fly be revealed again in the postseason? If so will it be as repetitive as the last few postseasons against the mighty Stanley Cup Champions? As my good friend Othmer says “Bragging Rights until June Ryan!” And this I cannot argue…
People compare the “slump” of the Flyers thus far in 2009/10 to that of the Penguins in the 2008/09 season. I agree. Injuries to both starting goalies, a coaching change, a deadline trade acquiring veteran Bill Guerin for the Pens, who knows what the Flyers might do at the deadline?
You heard it here first… from me… that the Philadelphia Flyers will be in the top eight teams in the East after 82 games! And my guess is much, much better than eighth!
I’m a hardcore backer in the fact that sometimes it's better to get your slump over with earlier on in the season, rather than in the last 10-20 games of the season. It is important for any team to have momentum going into the payoffs!
I feel it is up to not only the top two lines (Giroux, Richards, Gagne or Briere, Carter, Hartnell) but the third and fourth lines that have continued to contribute and been affective as of late.
Consisting of Powe, Carcillo, JVR, Laperriere, Asham and Betts. I also feel that they have been more effective since the return of Simon Gagne, as it has allowed all four lines to be intact, as they have in the past and accompanied each other as not only scorers or defenders but more disciplined as a whole and a frightening force when it comes to physical play.
Despite the recent injury to Ryan Parent, healthy and contributing players on the blue line have been Pronger, Carle, Timonnen, Coburn, Syvret, Bartulis and Tollefsen.
Keep in mind four of our defensemen are going to the Olympics in 2010 and at this point Mike Richards is the only forward from Philly and he and Pronger are representing the almighty Team Canada!
It is not Olympic time yet folks and that allows for such non invited players such as Carter, Briere and Gagne the chance to shine and silence Coach Babcock, Stevie Y and the rest of the Canadian critics.
Flyers are coming off of a 4-1 win against our conference rivals ‘The Bolts.’ They host such neglected Olympians as Vinnie Lecav, Martin St Louis and of course the sophomore sensation and former Sarnia Sting Center Stevie Stamkos. Try saying that three times fast?
If you ask me I feel that pro hockey players should not partake in the Olympics due to the fact that so many amateurs could be competing in a world spotlight and are not. It has truly become a marketable enterprise that needs the pros to sell the tickets at such a high price.
Ray Emery will be put to the test in his return in this week and if the Flyers can continue their winning streak they will leap frog the teams they have been battling with in the standings.
It will merely be a sign of things to come in the newest decade and the year the “Fly” and my boys will either fly away with it, or they have already lost their wings? Insert Audio sample of Seal “I Believe I Can Fly.”
In conclusion, continued success is up to the management, coaching staff, as well as the players to prove at this point! As an armchair General Manager all I can really do is, sit back and enjoy the ride! Go Flyers Go!
Thanks again for the read!