Orange & Black Breakdown
by Marc Siciliano on 12/02/11 at 04:04 PM ET
Thus far this week, we’ve talked about what was and we’ve covered what is; but when all is said and done, it all comes down to what can be. The Flyers have gone far too long without rewarding the diligence of their franchise and city with a Stanley Cup, but do they have what it takes to get it done this year? Are the pieces in place to reach the holy grail of hockey once and for all?
Let’s discuss it after the jump.
2010 Hurt. A Lot.
The key to the last several cup victories has been a combination of depth throughout the lineup and stellar goaltending at the right time. Chicago was able to rely on superior scoring depth and a rookie goaltender. Boston was rejuvenated by its young offensive depth and rode the coattails of one of the greatest goaltending performances in a single season all the way to the promise land. The good news for Flyers fans is that they have a roster capable of providing both.
It’s been harped on countless times, but the sheer amount of NHL caliber forwards they have (even if they aren’t NHL caliber scorers) will be a major asset to the team down the stretch. The Flyers were notoriously complacent until their backs were against the wall, nearly blowing their shot at the playoffs in 2010 before that magical run and sputtering out without much of a fight in the season that followed. It brought about big changes, and you can bet that if that feeling begins to creep into the locker room again, adjustments will be quickly made. Now, these adjustments won’t need to come via trade.
With this depth, the Flyers can also sacrifice some for defensive help down the line if needed. The big question right now revolves around the blue line, but the questions go hand in hand with the health of the players. Lets face it – Pronger’s injuries haven’t exactly been typical age-related injuries, and they might even serve to keep him healthy for a stretch run if he can get back early enough to be conditioned for the playoffs. Andrei the Giant has had some Mezsy play in all areas of the ice, but here’s to hoping his increased responsibility will help him find his game. Something has to give on the back end, but they are expected to be intact well before the trade deadline, giving management ample time to evaluate the situation.
It’s time for a new mental image synonymous with ‘the glory days’
Finally, it once again comes down to goaltending, but I want to preface this with a couple of tidbits.
1. When Chicago won the cup with Antti Niemi, Christobal Huet and his $5 million salary where riding the pine. In an absolute worst case scenario, just know it can be done with $5 million of wasted space on the cap sitting at the end of your bench.
2. Bob’s key to success throughout his career has been his ability to rise up to the task at hand, and after a mixed bag of success in his rookie season he was never given a fair shot in the playoffs. In his second season on a bigger rink and with more rest than ever, I would no doubt feel comfortable with him in the net if the team in front of him was playing to the potential I think they are capable of.
All that being said, this is Bryzgalov’s crease to lose and I don’t think that is going to happen. Sometimes there is too much scrutiny over how our goaltenders get the job done, and we ignore the trust the team has in the goalie while jumping to our own conclusions about how his play is affecting their confidence as a unit. Bryzgalov is a big and capable goalie, and everyone in that locker room knows it. People are quick to point out his playoff shortcomings versus the ever-powerful Red Wings with Phoenix, but do so without highlighting his success in Anaheim. He led his Ducks team to a Game 7 win in 06, and strung together a 3-game shutout streak in the process during that 2006 postseason while helping the Ducks to the Conference Finals. Like the signing or not, this guy can play – so can’t we let him do so already?
If they can stay hungry, there is no reason the Flyers shouldn’t be claiming their usual place in the Cup discussion come April. The difference this year is that the changes made in the offseason were done to particularly correct the issues that haunted them in the year’s prior. But have they overreacted in doing so? Ironically enough, that now becomes the biggest question this group of Flyers will have to face going forward on the path to success they seem capable of.
So what do the readers think: do they have what it takes this year?
Lets Go Flyers!
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About Orange & Black Breakdown
The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these
time-wasting habits passions with my love for writing to provide you with complete coverage of the Flyers from both my head and around the web, 24/7.
This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!
I’m always interested in interacting with readers, so find me on twitter (@marcs797) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s talk hockey.
Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!