Flyers Faithful asked Sarah Baicker from CSN Philly, Anthony SanFilippo from the DelCo Daily Times, Geoff Detweiler from Broad Street Hockey, and our very own Nina G five questions about the ’11 Flyers’ season. We are very grateful that they took the time to share their opinions and predictions with us. Each day of this week, we will run the answers to one of those questions. Today’s question is:
Of the Flyers that had a down season which, if any, will rebound?
Sarah Baicker: My vote goes to Danny Briere, who as we all know, had a disappointing regular season and then all but made up for it in the postseason. Now that he’s had some time to move on from the off-ice issues that clearly plagued him last season, his mind should be clearer – and he’s certainly put in time during the offseason once again to work on his conditioning. If his line with Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell is able to maintain even just a fraction of the magic it created during last year’s playoff run, we should absolutely see better results from him in 2010-11. I would also be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Jeff Carter. He’s been sharp in the Flyers’ first three games, and I expect him to lead the team in goals this year.
Anthony SanFilippo: They will all rebound in the sense that their numbers will improve. Heck, they couldn’t get worse. But, if you’re looking for the one guy who will be leaps and bounds this season better than last it’s defenseman Braydon Coburn.
I know there’s another question pertaining to this, so I won’t get into great detail here, but Coburn truly struggled last season… especially early on where he was adjusting to a slightly diminished role thanks to the arrival in Philly of Chris Pronger.
But, late in the season Coburn was better and starting to look like the prospect he once was when the Flyers plfered him from Atlanta for Alexei Zhitnik.
In the playoffs, all four of the Flyers key rearguads were good, but Coburn stood out because he looked so much different than the regular season version of himself.
Coming into this season, with Pronger still not 100 percent after offseason knee surgery, Coburn is being looked at as the big-minute big man on the blue line.
You won’t see it in his numbers – unless you’re a fan of advanced statistics – but you’ll see it in his play. And as a fan, you’ll be happy.
Geoff Detweiler: As someone who doesn’t think Carter had a down season last year, I’m going to say that both Danny Briere and Mike Richards will rebound from their down years. Briere scored his lowest points-per-game mark since 2002-03, so I’m going to say he’ll be due for a rebound to between 60 and 65 points this year, up from 53 last year. His moving back into the middle will be a big reason for his success. So long as Peter Laviolette keeps putting him out for offensive zone faceoffs, he should have no trouble succeeding. In addition, Richards went from back-to-back point-per-game seasons down to only only 62 points. I expect Richards to score over 70 points this year, but I’m weary of predicting that because of the loss of Simon Gagne. If Jeff Carter can prove as effective alongside Richards as Gagne was – which I seriously doubt – Richards should return to his previous form.
Nina G: Hartnell is the most obvious answer. He may be the most frustrating Flyer at times, but a 14 goal season is an anomaly for him. Last year’s shooting percentage of 8.2% was below his career average of 10.4% and well below his 13.5% shooting percentage from his previous 4 seasons. I expect him to revert back to means and will end up somewhere between his 10.4% career average and the 13.5% average of the 4 seasons prior to last. He should be good for 20-25 goals which 30 being a real possibility. I’d be shocked if he never hit 30 again.
I also expect improvements from Carter, Richards, and Briere but it’s hard to say how much because the scoring will be spread around due to a wealth of talent. I’m thinking 70-80 points for Carter and Richards and Briere will come in around 70.