Since the 2005 NHL lockout, there have only been two teams that appeared in the Stanley Cup Final two consecutive years: the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and 2009. With the Philadelphia Flyers having fallen just two games short of the 2010 Stanley Cup, their next goal is immediately apparent.
The Broad Street Bullies must return to the final and once again challenge for a Stanley Cup championship.
Of course, this is much more easily said than done. Considering the Flyers qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the last shooter of the shootout in the final game of the 2009-10 regular season, it is not enough just to assume that they will return.
The team has both lost and gained pieces on the ice. However, they remain mostly the same team that came oh so close to their first NHL championship since 1975.
In addition to changes that occur during the offseason, there are 14 other teams in the Eastern Conference that are foaming at the mouth at the possibility of being the next Eastern Conference Champion and challenging for the Stanley Cup themselves.
How about the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are one of just two teams who have not played a postseason game since the lockout? What about the Montreal Canadiens, who recently ended the first decade in team history in which they did not win the Stanley Cup?
Teams will be gunning for the Flyers all season, and the organization should be prepared. Here are the top five teams that have the best chance of knocking Philadelphia off the highest pedestal in the East.