Tuesday, September 15, 2009

THN.com: Flyers to Win the Cup

The Hockey News have made their prediction on the 2009-10 season and they predict that the Flyers will hoist the Cup, this coming June. So here it is, the Three-Star case for the Flyers as Stanley Cup champions - as Sam McCraig of THN.comBlog sees it.

1. The Pronger Effect
Not only is Chris Pronger still one of the most dominant, devastating defensemen in the game today. There might not be a Niedermayer equivalent in Philadelphia, but Pronger joins Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent for a very impressive top-four on the blueline and the depth combination of Matt Carle and Randy Jones offers a nice blend of offense (Carle) and grit (Jones).

2. Flyers Fine Up Front
If you’re a Philadelphia Flyers forward these days, you’re one of two things: talented or tough. And quite possibly, you’re both. Simply put, the Flyers have a formidable cast of forwards and they can win with skill or they can muck it up.

They’ve got two-way dynamo Mike Richards, a Bobby Clarke clone, and 46-goal scorer Jeff Carter as the Nos. 1 and 2 centers. Shifty Daniel Briere can play the middle, but on this team he’s better suited as a right winger on one of the top two lines. Plus, that allows up-and-coming center Claude Giroux, who was one of the team’s best forwards in the 2008 playoffs, to man the third line.

Simon Gagne is the Flyers’ top left winger – and one of the best in the league when he’s healthy, which was the case last season after playing just 25 games in 2007-08. Behind Gagne is Scott Hartnell, who delivered his most impressive season to date last year when he potted 30 goals and 60 points to go along with his sandpaper play.

There’s also rookie James van Riemsdyk on the left side, should he make the team, and he’s a power-forward-in-progress with the draft pedigree (second overall in 2007) to be a top-line force.

3. Ray Emery, Stanley Cup finalist
Yes, it’s true. One of the main reasons the Flyers signed Emery was because they could get the goalie with the checkered past on the cheap (one year for $1.5 million). After deciding that last year’s tandem of Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki wasn’t going to cut it, Philadelphia’s options were very limited. Emery didn’t single-handedly deliver the Senators to the final – or win them the Cup, as it turned out – but he was a valuable piece of that team. On the ice, anyway.

And whatever you think of Emery’s off-ice shenanigans, from missed practices and flights to fighting with teammates to highway incidents to Mike Tyson mask tributes, the guy does recognize he’s getting a second chance in the NHL after a year in Siberia (OK, Russia, but you know what we mean…).

He’s going to be on his best behavior, at least for a while, and he’ll be in a dressing room with a strong leadership presence (Pronger, Richards and Timonen, for starters). We should see the best Emery has to offer, and that effort has already been enough to take another club to the final.

This time, it might be enough to win a championship.

1 comment:

  1. For years the Flyers, for the most part, had good enough teams to at least win the east. There was always that one flaw though and that was and is goaltending. I would have to go back to the Hextall days when the Flyers actually had one goalie. It seems over the years they platoon goalies. This does not give either goalie a chance to get in a rhythm. Maybe Emery will be that guy, but he is not better than Biron or Niittymaky. Emery is not the answer between the pipes. The Flyers have a great defense and a great offense but goaltending is going to be their downfall