In a new division, regarded as possibly the toughest in the league, with 7 other teams the Flyers have the best chance to finish on top. It won’t be easy, facing each team in their division 8 times in a condensed 56 game schedule. However the orange and black have enough talent, great coaching, and player depth to take the division.
The Flyers have the best player depth in the division and it shows with how complete all four of their lines are. No other team in the East division can match the Flyers talent level line for line. When Vorachek is playing on the third line, there is great talent and depth. It creates matchup problems for teams playing against the Flyers. There is also a good mix of young and veteran players. Joel Farabee is a rising star, Nolan Patrick is out to prove he was worth being a #2 draft pick, Giroux wants to show age is not slowing him down, and Provorov is taking the next step at being a leader on defense. There is no lack of motivation on this team, each player has something to prove.
Goalies are always important for success but this year they will play an even bigger role in a shortened season, with many back to back games and mini series. Having two good quality goalies is a key to success and the Flyers have the best proven duo in the division, along with maybe Boston. With the season being completed in 116 days both goalies will be busy. The Flyers have 7 back to back games in that span. We already know that Hart and Elliott can handle the pressure and have proven so in the past. However there are many young and unproven goalies in our division this year. Let’s take a look at each teams goalie duo. Tell me who you don’t want to face in net because none should be a threat, with the exception of Rask and Varlamov.
Boston: Tukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak
Buffalo: Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton
New Jersey: Mackenzie Blackwood, Scott Wedgewood
Islanders: Semyon Varlamov, Iiya Sorokin, Cory Schneider
Rangers: Alexander Georgiev, Igor Shesterkin
Pittsburgh: Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith
Washington: Iiya Samsonov, Vitek Vanecek
Some would say Shesterkin, Samsonov, and Sorokin have the potential to be the next great goalie, but they haven’t proven they can handle NHL talent yet and only had success in the KHL and AHL.
To win in the NHL you also need a coach with experience and a great system that players buy into. The Flyers have that in Alain Vigneault and his all star coaching staff, who are entering their second year with the team. Between Alain, Yeo, and Therrien they have over 900 NHL wins combined. There is no lack of experience and they bring a winning culture to the team. Many players were learning Alain’s system in the first year and as the season progressed you could see the positive change and players fully buying into his system. Now in his second season and with very little roster turnover from last season, players can continue to grow and excel under him, especially our young core.
The Flyers have great depth, four solid lines, a sound defense, a proven goalie duo, and exceptional coaching. There isn’t anything they are missing or lacking to win the East division and make a run for the Stanley Cup.
By: Kevin Thaete (@BigKT23)
Photo credit: NHL.com