Two games into the new look Flyers' season it appears that they seem comfortable with one another.
In fact if you had no clue what was going with the team, you may have thought that they've been playing together for awhile now.
Just two regular season games and two wins have many fans that were feeling doubtful with this summer's moves, having a change of heart.
Thursday's win against the defending Stanley Cup Champions was a chance for the Flyers to seek some sort of redemption. It had been 5 months to the day that the Boston Bruins ended the reigning Eastern Conference Champs season with a sweep.
The Flyers endured a drawn out celebration and took to the ice rather rusty. But it wasn't before long the Flyers got those legs moving and scored two goals just 47 seconds apart in the first period. The Flyers also played very physical and the defense played in top form.
New comer Ilya Bryzgalov only saw 20 shots, but made some good saves to keep the Bruins to just one goal. If Flyer fans didn't feel great about Bryz's performance against Boston, he sure made them think twice in Saturday's game against the Devils. The Flyers couldn't get a single shut-out all last season and it only took Bryz two games to get one which made it the 24th of his career.
The Flyers looked like a team on a mission in that game and it wasn't just to beat the Devils. They're on a mission to the Cup. It started Thursday. Many teams begin that quest in April, but the Flyers have already begun. They lacked physical play and fore-checking last season. If you had watched the first 10 min of the Flyers/Devils game, you may have noticed, that is no longer an issue.
If you were worried about the Flyers' Rookies and young new comers, have no fear. Matt Read scored his first NHL goal on Saturday, Jakub Voracek scored his first as a Flyer on Thursday and Wayne Simmonds was just one assist shy of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Even 39 year old Jagr tallied the first assist of the Flyers' season. Those who were skeptical on giving Claude Giroux the torch as the new face of the franchise a little early, already has two goals.
The Flyers have made a statement in the first two games: "We're going to score on you, we're going to come at you physically and you’re going to have to break through our defense."
It seems that the Flyers have the best Defensive corps on paper: Pronger, Carle, Timmonen, Coburn, Meszaros, and Lilja. And if you get passed them, you have to deal with Bryzgalov. This is exactly what the Flyers' front office was thinking in June. Everyone else was thinking, "What happened to Richey and Cartsy?" Homer was thinking like a military captain. He's building a strong line of Defense. He's loaded his front line with young future stars accompanied by veteran all-stars. If this team plays like this, it will be very hard to beat them in battle. Don't forget, Brayden Schenn is in AHL waiting to be brought up and unleashed.
The Flyers’ test is only going to get harder. They'll introduce their new team on Wednesday in front of a sold out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center against the Western Conference Champs, the Canucks. They're still a strong team with the very dangerous Sedin Twins. Even though Luongo has a tendency to disappear, he's still one of the league's top goal tenders. The Flyers will have to play the same game they did on Saturday for continued success. They'll also need to cash in on their PP. Even though they went 0-8 on Saturday, it's misleading. Simmons scored just seconds after one had ended and their scoring chances were through the roof. They have a much better PP sense then they did last year. Their passing is crisp and their positioning is solid. They just need a bounce to go their way and that will happen in time. Don't forget Broduer was in net for those PPs.
Saturday will be another tough one when the "Flyers of the west" as they're known here in Philly, the LA Kings will visit. It didn't take long for Mike Richards to return and he's hungry. Richards had a goal and an assist in their season opener. It will also mark another homecoming for former Flyers Simon Gagne. The Kings are a very dangerous team and I've picked them to win the Western Conference this year. Terry Murray is a very under-rated coach and he has a very good team under him. Anze Kopitar also has 2 goals already. They’re going to come in ready to play.
I do not expect the Flyers to walk away with both wins. I do expect them to win one of these games, play hard and show good team character. Then we'll see if these first two games were all a dream.
I love Betts. He's a hard working player, great on the PK and dominates in the Faceoff circle. When he was waived last week, I was kind of shocked but I understood it. I'm still shocked to learn that he's back with the team. Betts was returned on Sunday after the Canadians asked the NHL to nullify the waiver claim. Betts had failed a team physical which was left to believe to be with his shoulder. This is not true. Betts has been having some knee issues and this is why he's now back on the orange and black roster. This creates an issue for the Flyers. After watching the first two games it appears that Rookie Sean Couturier may be here to stay. (More on him later) The Flyers still have 7 games before his contract counts against the roster and they were at 50 before Betts was waived. With Betts gone they were at 49 which gave them the room for Couturier. Now that Betts is back on the roster, the Flyers are maxed out at 50 and will have no choice but to send Couturier back to the juniors unless they can fix this. Due to Betts being injured he cannot be placed in the AHL for injury purposes. Never-the-less, he would still be under contract. Homer has been a magician since he became GM, so I’m curious to see what he's going to work out here. I am sure of this though; Betts has played his final game in a Flyers jersey.
ASK BILL CLEMENT:
I consider Bill Clement one Hockey's smartest analysts in the game. He was a great player who was part of the Broad Street Bullies and has been an analyst for the NHL for many years. He splits his time working for TSN, NHL, NHL Radio, NBC and the Flyers.
When I see Mr. Clement I ask him hockey questions that I'd figure he'd be the only one to answer. I respect his opinion that much that I feel the need to pick his brain. So here is the first question on my new installment "Ask Bill Clement."
If a game reaches a shoot-out on a 0-0 score, are both goalies credited with a shutout?
"Yes. Since Shoot-out goals do not count towards stats, both goalies will be credited with a shutout, even though it may not end in a shutout victory."
If you have questions you’d wish for me to ask Bill Clement, please contact me and you’re question could be featured in my blog.
Email iban3z @ [email][email protected][/email]