The following are reasons on why I believe the Flyers will win the Stanley Cup in the 2011/ 2012 season. Within the next few days, you will see my reasons on why the Flyers will miss the playoffs, to even out everything else.
The Flyers forwards & leadership – The Flyers currently have a lot of depth offensively this season, even with trading away Carter and Richards. Making up for this, the Flyers have acquired Jaromír Jágr, a two-time Stanly cup champion with Flyers rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the experience that Jágr brings to the table, this significantly brings leadership and offensive skill to the Flyers. Leadership, being the keyword here since captain Mike Richards was traded. Will he be the captain? Probably not. But he will have much influence (or at least we hope) on the Flyers younger stars such as James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
James van Riemsdyk had a monster season last year, and is projected to get better this year. Although he struggled in the beginning of the season, I don’t think that will happen this year. I predict that that he will be in the top 5 in points in the 2011 season in the entire National Hockey League. It takes a lot to say that, but with teammates such as Jagr, Briere, and Voracek, this will not be a problem. Mark my words when I say the Flyers goal scoring this year will be higher than any other season from the past 6 years. The depth of the Flyers defense still being solid, and adding an elite goaltender certainly helps the Philadelphia Flyers winning the Stanley cup.
The Flyers toughness – The Flyers lost to the Bruins last season after being tired and out-hit. The Bruins were tougher and stronger. The Flyers improved both categories with Carcillo off the team. How? His replacement will be Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo, although did not show much when he played a few games in the playoffs last season (and has more suspensions than goals), is one talented young kid. He showed what he was capable of during the prospect scrimmage game this year. He was able to control the puck, make some pretty passes, and hit hard, very hard. I was impressed by all of the hard hits he made, and I can’t imagine what he would be like at the NHL level. He definitely impressed Paul Holmgren and Peter Laviolette. He will most likely make the team and play wing on the 4th line.
The Flyers defense – Without a doubt, Chris Pronger being out 32 games last year, and most of the playoffs hurt the Flyers big time. If Pronger starts the season healthy, he will be at the top of his game. With the absence of Richards, which we all know they had their issues, Pronger will step it up to the next level. With Pronger being the heart and soul of our defense, playing at the top of his game, will help Carle, Meszaros and Coburn do even better as well. We all saw Coburn play much better last year. He has improved his speed, acceleration, and checks harder. These are signs of improvement, and the same will happen with the rest of our defense next year, especially with an elite goaltender behind them as mentioned earlier.
The Flyers goaltending – Last year, rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was our starting goaltender for most of the season. Although he did very well in the beginning of the year, Bobrovsky was not able to handle the pressure, especially in the playoffs when the Flyers needed him the most. As for Brian Boucher, lets face it, he will be a backup goaltender for life, as well as Leighton. So obviously, the Flyers had some goaltending issues last year. In the 2011 offseason, the Flyers signed the best free agent goaltender out there, Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov will be the Flyers best goaltender on the team in 20 years. Bryzgalov says he’s ready. He wants a cup, and wants it now. He has never been given a change to play on a team with offensive and defensive depth. This is Bryzgalov’s chance to prove himself as the goaltender he says he is, and lead the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley cup.
With all that said, yes, I believe the Flyers have improved on many levels, offensively, leadership, toughness defense and goaltending. With these improvements, and with Laviolette coaching the team, the Flyers should, and will be the team to beat.
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