The Philadelphia Flyers are, in fact, the deepest team in hockey. They boast four scoring lines and have played solid defensive hockey all season. There are so many ways that this team can beat you and they oftentimes carry that out. So far, they've done so 25 times and are on pace for their best regular season finish in quite some time.
The Flyers have so much depth that they even carried three goalies for a short while. With Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobrovsky sharing duties for a little, the Flyers were strong. Even though it appeared that Leighton's lone start was merely another audition, as he was waived not long thereafter.
Ultimately though, Boucher has been the true star in net. He's answered the call every single time this year and appears to be at his best.
While "Bob" still has a lot to offer to the Flyers and a ton of time to grow, he's biding his time as backup for now. Don't kid yourselves, though, the love affair between "Bob" and Philly is far from over. This kid is a star in the making.
Now to the offense, where the Flyers are truly deeper than ever.
First off, they currently boast six players with double-digit goals (three others with nine.) This team is for real and is very young, so they're not going anywhere. Furthermore, the only Flyer to appear in a game this season and not register a single point is defenseman Oskars Bartulis. Boo you, Oskars.
The Flyers have been able to build upon last year's miracle run to the Stanley Cup Finals, seemingly picking up right where they had left off in June.
With Daniel Briere having a career year, the Flyers are no longer regretting his big contract a few years ago.
Briere and linemates Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino have clicked all season and rekindled their playoff magic from 2010. As we saw last night in New Jersey, this line is among the very best in the entire league. They all do different jobs on the ice and mesh ideally together.
Briere is the finesse, behind-the-net guy. In addition, Danny Boy has great on-ice vision and sets up his linemates. Leino is the power and passer, but can also score. Leino needs to be paid right now. Hartnell gets himself in front of the net as a power forward.
Also on offense, the Flyers have much more talent. Two-way captain Mike Richards is one of the most selfless players in the game. He always takes the body and is the perfect Flyer captain. Richards embodies everything about this franchise.
It begins with Richards but definitely doesn't end with No. 18. Jeff Carter is one of the premiere scorers in the NHL and is dangerous with the puck on his stick tape.
New addition Nikolay Zherdev has wowed fans and been solid. He may be up for grabs at season's end but it would be wise for the Flyers to re-up him, though it will be at a heftier price tag.
James vanRiemsdyk, Andreas Nodl and Claude Giroux are all young talents that will only continue to grow in Philadelphia. The Flyers have high expectations for these three guys now and in the future.
JVR was benched by coach Peter Laviolette but has since repented and played Lavy's type of hockey.
Nodl still has ample time to grow but at 23 is a real joy to watch. He will blossom into a top-line forward before our very eyes.
Giroux is the top dangler on the team and one of the best in the league at making defenses look silly. His potential is sky-high and the Flyers now have a lot vested in him. Giroux will celebrate his 23rd birthday next week.
Their defense has come as advertised. Kimmo Timonen sacrifices his body on a nightly basis and proves to be a warrior for Philadelphia. His presence can't be denied and he's the quarterback of the power play. While his goal production has gone down in Philadelphia, he's here for defense and he does a fantastic job at that. Timonen is probably the most underrated defenseman in the sport.
Braydon Coburn is only 25 and has already played his share of playoff hockey. On this team, he's seen as a veteran leader and that's not necessarily a bad thing. While he has his on/off nights, he's generally very solid for Philadelphia and is quite tough.
The additions of Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell can't be overlooked either. Meszaros has regained the form that made him a highly-touted youngster in Ottawa. He's played his best hockey since his days up north. Meszaros is a plus-26 on the ice for the Flyers. To say that he underachieved in Tampa Bay is a major understatement.
O'Donnell boasts a plus-16 and has been a more than serviceable veteran. The Flyers were smart to add this crafty vet to their roster this summer.
Though they've played well in his absence, there's no way to possibly explain just how much the Flyers miss Chris Pronger's presence. His leadership skills are incredible and he leads by example. Pronger pretty much willed the Flyers through the stretch run and a bulk of the playoffs. Now with plenty of time to heal, he should be well-rested for another run at the Cup.
By season's end, the Flyers should have about nine guys with 20-plus goals. WOW!
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