Philadelphia Flyers: 5 Must-See Games on Flyers' Schedule
There will be plenty of storylines heading into this season for the Flyers after one of the most active offseasons in recent history.
After the team acquired the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, they knew that they needed to shed some cap space in able to get the Russian under contract.
So, just one day before the draft, the Flyers said goodbye to two of the team's leaders in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the two draft picks, including Columbus' No.1 pick, as well as young winger Jakub Voracek.
Richards was traded to Los Angeles in exchange for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, one of the top prospects in the Kings system.
The Flyers were not done yet as they were able to add two talented veterans in Jaromir Jagr and Maxim Talbot, both having ties with the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.
The team that starts the season October 6th will be one completely different from the one that left Boston after the team was swept by the Bruins, but the Flyers are still one of the top-ranked teams in the NHL.
1) October 6th @ Boston Bruins
The Flyers start the 2011-2012 season right where they ended their last, in Boston.
Last time Philadelphia was there, the Boston Bruins completed a four-game sweep and humiliated the Broad Street Bullies.
The Bruins dominated the series with what spelled the end for the Flyers, goaltending.
Philadelphia rotated between rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and veteran Brian Boucher, but it did not matter as both struggled throughout the playoffs.
Even though the Flyers got rid of several players, there will still be plenty of players that will cringe when they see the Bruins Stanley Cup Champions banner raise into the rafters of the TD Garden.
Not only do the Flyers want to erase all of the bad memories delivered by the Bruins, but they also want to show the world that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
This will be the first time America gets to see the new look Flyers, including Ilya Bryzgalov and the return of Jaromir Jagr to the NHL.
If the Bruins start right where they left off and dominate Philly again, watch for questions to arise on whether or not it was the right decision to part with Richards and Carter in able to sign Bryzgalov.
However, if the Flyers can accomplish their revenge, it will be a great start to a promising season.
2) October 15th vs. Los Angeles Kings
After center Jeff Carter was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a lot of people thought that the team was done trading before the draft.
However, shortly after that deal was done, another went through that sent captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings.
No one was more shocked than Richards himself, who had signed a 12-year extension in 2007.
After he was traded, Richards stated that if he had known that he was going to be traded, he would have never signed the extension.
Although Richards was caught off guard, he embraced his new beginning out on the west coast and it won't be long before the Flyers get to see the ex-captain in a different uniform.
It will be interesting to see how the always vocal Philadelphia crowd welcomes it's former captain back to the Wells Fargo Center as Richards did not betray the team and demand a trade, he was just no longer a piece of the Flyers puzzle.
Richards was the captain of the Flyers since 2008 and was never praised for his leadership. He was also not a huge fan of the media, as several times he chose to answer media questions with one-word answers to try and show his displeasure with them.
Now Richards returns to the city that originally drafted them and if the Flyers can pull off a victory, I'm sure Richards won't be too happy to see the Philadelphia media once again.
3) November 5th vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Yes, Mike Richards was shocked when he was traded by the Flyers to Los Angeles, but nothing compares to how shocked Jeff Carter was.
Carter, who signed a large extension back in 2010, was planning on finishing his career in Philadelphia.
However, that was not the case when he was traded to Columbus, days after his agent was told my general manager Paul Holmgren that Carter was not going anywhere.
After the trade happened, Carter choose not to speak to any media for four days. Carter felt betrayed by the Flyers and was ready for a fresh start in Columbus.
It won't be long into the season before Carter and his new team come into Philadelphia.
Carter had no hard feelings towards his teammates, but it will be interesting to see how Carter plays in his first game in Philadelphia while on the opposing team.
The Blue Jackets are a team on the rise, so this game will be filled with a lot of action.
Not only did the Blue Jackets add Carter to their young roster, but they also added one of the top free agent defenseman in James Wisniewski.
This game will be a true test to see if getting rid of Carter was worth it when it came to signing Bryzgalov.
4) December 8th vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
This will be the first game between these two rivals in the 2011-2012 season and the tension is already starting to build in the offseason.
Before free agency was set to begin, the Penguins were one of the main teams in the running for former captain Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr has spent the past three seasons in the KHL and was finally prepared to make a return to the league and the team where he played the prime of his career. The Penguins made a contract offer for one year, worth $2 million.
Out of the few teams that were interested in Jagr, the Flyers were not one of them at first.
However, moments before free agency began, the Penguins pulled their contract offer and decided to go another way. Jagr would later sign with the Flyers.
Although Jagr is close to 40-years-old, he has still been able to average 24 goals a year in the KHL and still has something left in the tank.
But, it will be interesting to see if he can make the adjustment back to the NHL being at an older age.
The Flyers were not done there when it came to signing former Penguins, as later on the same day, they came to a deal with center Maxime Talbot, signing him to a five-year deal, worth $9 million.
Talbot will help with the Flyers faceoff win percentage, as well as his penalty kill abilities, as the Penguins penalty kill was the best in the league last season.
It will be weird for Flyers fans to cheer for two players they have hated for so many years, as well as Pittsburgh to do the opposite, but it should create some great hockey.
5) January 2nd vs New York Rangers
The city of Philadelphia will finally get it's first taste of playing host to the Winter Classic.
The New York Rangers will come to town and the two teams will hit the ice at Citizen Banks Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, for the 2012 Winter Classic.
The Rangers have become a much improved team as they not only re-signed both young stars Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinksy, but signed the top free agent in Brad Richards.
With the Richards signing, the Atlantic Division has become even stronger than it was before and the Flyers will have little room for error.
Even though the game is in January, fans should have a clear picture of what the division will look like for the rest of the season by that time.
This game between the two rivals could very likely hold playoff implications as the Flyers look to prove that they are still one of the best teams in the NHL even with major roster changes.
The Flyers are looking for Winter Classic redemption as they came up just short in their first WC against the Boston Bruins back in 2010.