Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview
Let’s Go Fly-ers! Our men in orange and black are ready to embark on another jam-packed season. The Atlantic division should be incredibly competitive as usual with the Rangers, Flyers, Devils, and Penguins all packed into one division. No worries though, our team has the depth and is well coached. The Flyers are filled with a good mix of veterans and youngsters, who should have no problem keeping up with other young teams in the league.
Unfortunately, we lost a couple major cogs in our playoff run from last season. R.J. Umberger, Vaclav Prospal and Jason Smith are gone. The Flyers definitely had some major holes to fill in the offseason; and fill them we did! The Flyers picked up Glen Metropolit, Aaron Asham and a tough defensemen, Ossi Vaananen. In addition, we signed Jeff Carter to an extension, so no free agency for him…what a relief. Also, the Flyers gave young star Mike Richards the captaincy, and he should be leading the Flyers for a long time to come. Here at Kotite’s Corner, we are extremely confident that we can beat our 6th place finish from last season in the conference. It is not going to be easy as we will have many games against the aforementioned Rangers, Devils, and Penguins.
Another major addition is the return of one Simon Gagne from the disabled list. Gagne was playing well early last season, just as he always does, before he went down for the year. This guy has been a stud, and you know he is ready to finally prove he can stay healthy and be a veteran leader on this Flyers team. How ready are you to see Gags back on the ice during regular season hockey? We know we’re ready for it. He looked strong at camp and in the preseason games. Gagne is only 28, but has already played nine NHL seasons. We know he has a lot left in him and will fall back into the superstar status quickly. One of our other superstars, Briere, needs to step it up early in the season. He needs to be scoring goals and making the plays that he did in the playoffs last season right off the bat. We can’t wait for the playoffs for him to pick up his game this season, although much appreciated, we can’t afford it this year. Let’s not forget about the other stars on this team in Lupul, Upshall, Knuble and Hartnell. Those players are sometimes shadowed by Briere and Richards, yet still contribute and mean just as much as the “superstars” do.
On defense is where the Flyers will need to improve the most this season. The Flyers defense was better last season than it was two seasons ago, however, it will need to improve further if the Flyers want to go deep into the playoffs. The Flyers defense is led once again by all-star Kimmo Timonen, who is the best all-around player on defense for this team. Some of the younger defensemen in Braydon Coburn, and Randy Jones really played well last season, and will be asked to increase their role even more this season to make up for the loss of Jason Smith, and the injury issues of Derian Hatcher. The Flyers defense is going to make-or-break the season. We know the Flyers can score, and we know that we will get solid goaltending out of Martin Biron. The defense has to step up their game, and this team will go far.
Speaking of the goaltending, Martin Biron had an up-and-down season last year, but really came on in the latter stages of the year, especially in the playoffs. Biron was the playoff MVP for this team, and was the main reason we escaped our 1st round series with the Capitals, and won our 2nd round series with the Canadiens. Antero Niittymaki has been on this team for a few years now, and may soon be the starter. He came into big spots last season, and did very well as a backup goalie.
Although the season does begin this Saturday evening at 7:00pm, I’m looking forward to October 14th when we play the Penguins. They eliminated us out of the Stanley Cup hunt last year and we’re out for blood. The season does open Saturday against the hated Rangers. LET’S GET FLYERED UP!