The Philadelphia Flyers have had their share of ups and downs this past season, but overall they have been able to stay atop the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia made some bold moves in the offseason, trading both of their cornerstone players in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. While the moves may have been a bit harsh, Paul Holmgren was able to restock the cupboard with fine young talent that will keep Philly competitive for years.
In this slideshow, I'll list five reasons why I think they still have what it takes to not only win the Eastern Conference, but maybe even make a return appearance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Feedback is always appreciated. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!
When the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the hockey world over the summer by trading their captain Mike Richards, most were wondering, "What are the Flyers thinking!?"
That same day, the Flyers also traded away their top scorer in Jeff Carter, which suddenly left Philadelphia with some huge holes to fill.
At the end of the day, the Flyers walked away from both trades with Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and the eighth-overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft.
Most Philadelphia fans felt that with Richards and Carter now gone, it spelled the end of any hopes of a Stanley Cup in the next few years.
That is simply not the case.
If anything, the Flyers have become an even scarier team. Sure, the Flyers lost two All-Star caliber guys, but they brought in top-notch young talent in Brayden Schenn, who is considered by most as the best NHL prospect in the game right now.
Not only that, but they added some more grit by bringing in young Wayne Simmonds, who can do everything from score goals to beat people to a pulp.
If that wasn't enough, Philadelphia selected Sean Couturier with the eighth-overall pick in the draft, a player who should have been picked much higher but fell a few spots due to an illness the previous season.
Philly also brought in another former first-round pick in Jakub Voracek, as well as Matt Read, both of whom have been playing amazingly.
With all this young talent, the Philadelphia Flyers will be a competitive team for years to come.
It's no secret that the Flyers have had an absolutely dominant offensive game.
They can take you out of the game without even playing a hard defensively.
Philly has the potential to score multiple goals on you in a matter of seconds.
With the departure of Richards and Carter, other guys have been able to step up their game and really show the world what they've got.
One player who has certainly done that this season is Claude Giroux, who with more ice time has been able to finally show the hockey world what he can do.
Claude has reached superstar status already this season, and he's not the only one showing potential.
Don't forget about guys like Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell, who have played great together the past few years and are always reliable to net anywhere from 20-25 goals at least.
And how could you count out newcomer Jaromir Jagr, who was brought in to ease some of the pain of losing Carter and Richards? He has been nothing but stellar all season, and even though he has missed some games, he hasn't missed a beat.
Another great surprise this season has been newcomer Maxime Talbot, who has been finding the back of the net as of late. While we most likely won't see that kind of production from him all season, it's good to see that the team is firing on all cylinders.
Throw Voracek, Schenn, Simmonds and Read into the mix, and you have one hell of an offense.
Although the Flyers have brought in a ton of young talent to fill some voids this year, they haven't forgotten how important it is to maintain that balance of young talent and veteran leadership.
When the Flyers brought in guys like Schenn and Couturier, I don't think they expected them to just jump right in and fill the shoes of Carter and Richards.
That's why Philly went out and signed guys like Jaromir Jagr, Maxime Talbot and Andreas Lilja in the offseason.
So far, it has been an absolutely perfect balance, and even with Chris Pronger out of the lineup right now, guys like Jagr and Max have made sure to keep their team in check in the locker room.
You gotta admit, for guys like Schenn and Couturier, playing with guys like Talbot and Jagr might feel like a dream. Any time you have guys like that teaching younger, talented players, it always makes them a better hockey player.
Let's not forget about other guys, like Pronger and Timonen, who usually hold the fort down when they need to. They can be very vocal, and they aren't afraid to stick up for their young guys.
Let's not lie to ourselves here.
Philadelphia had a bit of a breakdown last year when it came to goalies.
Last year, Philadelphia was finally exposed at the goaltender position, when they were rolling three different goalies—none of whom could seem to get the job done.
After the Flyers fell to the Bruins in the playoffs, Flyers owner and chairman Ed Snider made it clear he wanted a top-notch goalie and promised that the goalie carousel would no longer be an issue for Philadelphia. Ed Snider delivered on his promise.
Philadelphia went after the hottest goalie on the free-agent market, Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Flyers wanted him so bad, they didn't even wait for him to hit the market before they had him inked up, trading picks and prospects to Phoenix for his rights.
Not long after, Philly traded away Carter and Richards, and just hours later announced a new nine-year deal worth over $50 million.
It's safe to say the Flyers are now solid at the goaltending position, something that Flyers fans everywhere have been waiting for since the days of Ron Hextall—or if you're a die-hard fan, Bernie Parent.
By signing Bryzgalov, they get one of the best goalies in the league, and they still get to keep Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been absolutely nothing but stellar between the pipes since he broke out in the league last year. It's safe to say their goaltending situation is under control.
Philadelphia has one of the greatest fanbases of all time.
It doesn't even matter what sport you're talking about—Philly fans love their team, and most of them would probably die for their team.
You can't really blame them. Most Philly fans have been waiting for a championship in this city for years.
With the exception of the 2008 World Series, Philadelphia fans have not really had much to brag about. Still, the fans will always be there to root for their team.
Philly fans stick by their team through thick and thin, and they make any building intimidating to come into.
There's no denying they are some of the most passionate, knowledgeable fans in any sport. While the fanbase as a whole may get a bad rap for throwing snowballs at Santa or cheering when a player gets injured, it doesn't change the fact that we love our team and will always be there to support them.
Philly fans will still sell out seats, even if the team is struggling. That right there, folks, is dedication.
We love our teams, and when it comes to the Philadelphia fanbase, there is absolutely no other fanbase quite like it.
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