James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux celebrate a goal.
Now that the smoke has cleared after this past summer's crazy off season, it's time for this year's Philadelphia Flyers to get ready for a new slate of games.
There's little doubt that young scorers James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux will need to step up this season, seeing as former captain Mike Richards and center Jeff Carter have left for greener pastures.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were unquestionably the cornerstones of this Philadelphia roster since the 2007 season, which raises an intriguing and exciting thought for most fans: Will Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk reach the potential needed to push the Flyers far into the playoffs this year?
You can put your bottom dollar on it that they will.
James van Riemsdyk showed glimmers of promise during last year's playoffs, putting up seven goals in 11 games. Giroux, on the other hand, is currently one best bargains going in the NHL. Last year he recorded an almost point-per-game season, netting 25 goals and assisting on 51 while only creating a cap hit of $822,000.
This is usually the first topic to come up when talking about the Flyers off season, but there's much more than this.
Here's are a few obstacles I see the Flyers absolutely needing to tackle to become a force this season.
Defenseman Chris Pronger bumps into Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara.
With some notable faces gone, the pace needs to be set. Recently-announced captain Chris Pronger will certainly be a strong influence in the locker room.
If this year's team takes the attitude and demeanor of last year's roster, we can be looking at a big year. Only time will tell if the traditional Philadelphia Flyers blue-collar approach will still remain.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov waits patiently as the spotlight is shined on him.
In any sport, a team can try and go out to acquire an important position player, and for whatever reason, that piece never fully develops for the team.
There's no question that goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will thrive under the defense of the Philadelphia Flyers; that's not the potential issue.
It's various microscopic catastrophes that can lead to this, like player injuries, the media, etc. That's not even bringing up the fact that this is his first year with the Flyers, and he's joining a team extremely hungry for postseason success.
Danny Briere reaches out for the puck,
In the 2010-2011 season, the Flyers ranked 19th in the power play, and came in at 15th in the penalty kill category.
Certainly Ilya Bryzgalov will improve this year's penalty kill, and with a healthy Pronger to start off the year, it's definitely looking good from that prospective.
The bigger question mark is the power play.
Signs are pointing to new Flyer Jaromir Jagr playing on the power play along with the usual suspects of Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.
One of the most underrated decisions going into this season for Coach Laviolette will be how he manages this year's power play.
Defenseman Brayden Coburn pushes Forward Tomas Holmstrom out of the crease.
It is obvious that every team would benefit from a good start, but for the Flyers this year it'll be vital.
If they start out in a slump, it could get ugly.
There's been too many moves this past off season for excuses to set in with this talented team. The team absolutely needs to avoid this at all costs, which shouldn't be too big of a feat on paper.
Scott Hartnell battling infront of the net with Zdeno Chara.
With all of these new pieces, it can be hard for team chemistry to stay consistent.
The team will get hot from time to time, but the question is will they keep their hot streaks long enough?
If you ask me, there's too much talent for it not to.
Again, who knows what trouble they could come across, and it would be foolish to say they couldn't have some costly speed bumps along the way.
We'll just have to sit and wait and see how this year's squad performs.