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A Tale of Two Cities...

Posted 9:47 AM ET | Comments 10
The two cities in question being Philadelphia and New York--more specifically, their Flyers and Rangers.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Okay, it's not really either, because it is still early in the season. But, from the vibes you get from each team's fans, you could certainly believe the sun shines on the Flyers while the sky is falling on the Rangers.

"...it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."

Each team added some major pieces this past offseason, including the 3 biggest-ticket free agents on the market. The difference appears to be another commodity that isn't as easily acquired: chemistry.

While the Flyers appeared to have how players would fit and mesh together on their minds when they overhauled the roster that resulted in last year's debacle; the Rangers seemed to bring in major talents and expect (hope?) they would mesh on their own. Early results of the KGB line compared to the continuing attepmts to find "the right fit" for the Rangers' forwards seem to bear this out.

Several analysts and commentators are telling Ranger fans not to press the Panic Button yet, as it takes time to build team chemistry. However, the Flyers made more personnel changes in more areas, and have already shown the kind of cohesiveness that eludes the Blueshirts, so far.

This brings up the other area in which the two teams' offseason actions differ: addressing areas of need. The Flyers had several glaring areas of need as last season wound down. The arrivals of Timonen, Hartnell, the surprising Lupul, and--especially--Briere, Smith, and Biron solidified the obvious holes in Philly's roster.

In contrast, it was almost universally perceived that the Rangers' soft spot was their defense corps. Their off-season game plan, however, centered (no pun intended) on the arrivals of Gomez and Drury, and the replacement of Nylander--a center with whom superstar Jaromir Jagr showed good chemistry and results last year.

"...it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity..."

Many hockey people expected the Rangers would follow up last year's 94-point performance by reaching new heights--including several predictions of a Stanley Cup victory. Quite a few openly questioned the Flyers' likelihood of even returning to the playoffs.

The early returns have turned the tables on those pre-season ideas: Philadelphia fans, and NHL followers at large, are beginning to look at the Flyers as a team which may make a startling turnaround from the subterranean depths they sunk to last year; just as the doubts about when the Rangers may begin to "click" have grown.

Again, it is still early, and each team could find equilibrium at any time, as the tale of these two cities unfolds.
Filed Under:   Rangers   Flyers   Gomez   Drury   Briere   Biron   Holmgren  
October 24, 2007 10:34 AM ET | Delete
Very asstute observations. The Flyers signed players that where all familiar with each other from the past from the WJC or fellow countrymen, in Homer I trust.
October 24, 2007 10:53 AM ET | Delete
bringing guys into a team in pairs instantly helps out chemistry. no one feels like the odd man out. never under value a spport system, even if it is 1 guy
October 24, 2007 11:26 AM ET | Delete
love it
October 24, 2007 11:58 AM ET | Delete
Dickens was a hack!!!
October 24, 2007 2:07 PM ET | Delete
Very nicely done 23! You make some really decent points and I thank goodness that Homer is the architect of this team. He did an amazing job in the end of last season and throughout the entire off-season. He saw the holes, addressed the needs and let the coach...coach. Which he has done marvelously. Great work 23! SYF
October 24, 2007 4:34 PM ET | Delete
Great points - I think aquiring Biron and Briere together was a work of art/genius as far as team chemistry is concerned.
October 24, 2007 5:07 PM ET | Delete
Anyone ever see that "Cheers" where Frasier is reading "A Tale of 2 Cities" to the guys in the bar and has to change the story to keep their interest....I know this has nothing to do with hockey...but this article just reminded me of that show. I remember when he said "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times", Norm asked "Wait, which one was it?".
October 24, 2007 5:26 PM ET | Delete
Good blog 23 and some great comments from your readers, too. Chemistry? We have a mix of chlorine and ammonia here in Nashville. Is that OK?
October 24, 2007 6:27 PM ET | Delete
Blueline my man, what in the name of x$#@
October 24, 2007 8:01 PM ET | Delete
Well B16, we just like to keep it interesting while playing close to the edge with extremely sharp knives and an assortment of highly volatile compounds.
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