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:
What are the biggest obstacles that the Flyers will have to overcome in order to win the Stanley Cup?
Sarah Baicker: If the Flyers can stay relatively healthy and at least one goalie out of their stable of netminders emerges as proficient, their biggest challenge will be simple: playing in the face of all the expectations and pressures that surround them this season, as the defending Eastern Conference Champions. The expectations are high – anything less than a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is unacceptable to fans. And that pressure isn’t ever taken lightly.
Anthony SanFilippo: The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. That might sound like it’s a funny answer, but it’s true. We learned last season that they can beat New Jersey, Boston and Montreal and none of those teams so significantly improved their roster that they are better than the Flyers.
But, the boys in orange and black were fortunate enough to not have to deal with either the Pens or the Caps in the postseason. If they had, the run might not have been so magical.
That’s all right though, because they are better suited to compete with those teams now than a season ago if for no other reason that the defense has vastly improved and it looks like the goaltending situation may finally settle.
Still, if the Flyers are going to return to the Finals, let alone win the Cup, they’ll have to prove they can get past one, if not both, of these teams.
Geoff Detweiler: Besides other Eastern Conference teams like the Penguins and Capitals, the Flyers biggest obstacles will be their goaltending, consistency, and injuries. The Flyers are counting on a journeyman to repeat his career year in net, as well as a rookie who doesn’t speak English to become a solid NHL goaltender. Those are dangerous risks that must be overcome in order for the Flyers to succeed. In addition, the Flyers were incredibly inconsistent last year, and that hasn’t changed through five games this year. If that continues throughout the year, the Flyers will put themselves in a hole that will be very difficult to dig out of, both in winning games and playoff seeding. Lastly, injuries will be a huge hurdle for this team. While the Flyers have up to 8 top six forwards, and up to five top four defensemen, the truth is that they don’t have much depth waiting should a key player go down. We already saw this in the first two games of the season, as the Flyers defense did not look good without Chris Pronger. On offense, any two injuries could see the Flyers dress all of Dan Carcillo, Jody Shelley, Andreas Nodl, and David Laliberte. Coupled with Blair Betts and Darroll Powe, the Flyers would immediately have half of their offense be severely over matched.
Nina G: This may contradict my answer to yesterday’s question, but a big obstacle will be themselves. On paper they are talented as anyone, but in the past few seasons they have shown they can be their own worst enemy with their lack of consistency. They were able to put it behind them in the playoffs, but one has to hope it didn’t lead them to believe they can turn it off and on whenever they want. When they are on they can beat anyone. They just have to stop beating themselves.
Organizational depth is another biggie. The NHL roster is loaded with talent, but odds are injuries are going to play a role this season. Do they have the depth in the minors to withstand a significant injury or two? Are any of these guys ready to step up and play a significant role if needed?