The Flyers spent the offseason revamping their core of offensive players, dealing captain Mike Richards and forward Jeff Carter, and signing star free-agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes. The Flyers realized their weak spots from past seasons, and made moves to fix their flaws. the result has, so far, been rewarding: the Flyers have the best offense in the NHL, and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and rising superstar Claude Giroux have played to their full potential, leading the Flyers to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Now the Flyers have to start thinking about their chances at the Stanley Cup, and they have several reasons to believe that they are destined for Stanley Cup glory.
1. Offensive Firepower
The Flyers have scored 106 goals this season so far, which is the most among NHL teams. For fans who believed the Richards and Carter trades would destroy a deep, aggressive offense, the output from Flyers forwards has been surprising and welcome. Claude Giroux leads the team with 16 goals and 23 assists, and twelve Flyers have at least ten points this season. This offense is young, deep, and has enough tools and options to provide a strong offense for the Flyers for years to come.
2. Veteran Leadership
The Flyers are unique in that they have both a strong group of young players and a large group of seasoned veterans who can teach and lead by example. Before he was injured, defenseman Chris Pronger led the team as Captain, and was one of two players on the team with a Stanley Cup championship. The other, Jaromir Jagr, arrived this offseason from play in Russia, and brings nearly twenty years of experience to the club. The veterans on the team can provide composure and leadership to the Flyers.
3. Strong Goaltending
So far, the Ilya Bryzgalov signing has been a huge benefit to the Flyers. Bryzgalov and backup netminder Sergei Bobrovsky each have save percentages over 90% and both players have 2.75 Goals Allowed Averages, statistics that rank them among the NHL's best. In addition, Bryzgalov brings playoff experience from his years in Phoenix to the club, and with an elite goalie in net, expect the Flyers to go far in the playoffs.
4. Peter Laviolette
Coach Laviolette has been nothing but successful during his tenure in Philadelphia, leading the struggling Flyers to the 2010 Cup Finals and to the 2011 Atlantic Division title. Laviolette also knows what it takes to win, winning the 2006 Stanley Cup while serving as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. Coach Laviolette is a proven winner, and has the tools to lead the Flyers to the promised land for the first time since 1975.
5. Claude Giroux
Most Stanley Cup teams rally behind the strong play of a superstar player. For the Flyers, Claude Giroux is that player. His 16 goals and 23 assists lead the team, and his 39 points are the best of any NHL player. Giroux has stepped up as a determined leader of a young offensive team, and his consistent good play has led the Flyers to the top of the standings. If Giroux can continue to play to the best of his ability, he will not only win the Hart Trophy, but he can lead the Flyers to a bigger prize: the Stanley Cup.