Flyers Faithful asked Travis Hughes from SB Nation and Broad Street Hockey, Matt P. From The 700 Level, Mark Trible from The Checking Line and our very own Pavialax five questions about the playoffs. 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:
Travis Hughes: Last year’s playoffs had so many breakout stars — HBL, Giroux, Coburn… hell, Leighton — that it’s tough to pick one this year. I’d love to say James van Riemsdyk, but I’m not really sure about that one. If the Flyers are to go deep though, the goaltending will have to play up to par as it did last year, and I think in that regard, Sergei Bobrovsky could emerge as a star. Not that the team needs GREAT goaltending to win the Cup, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Matt P: My money’s on Claude Giroux or James van Riemsdyk. Giroux is an obvious choice coming out of his best season with signs that he’s only getting better. JVR is working well with the Richards line and getting confident with his scoring abilities. As of this writing, he’s coming off his first career hat trick, with potential to enter the playoffs on a hot streak. JVR emerging as a major goal-scoring threat would add dramatically to the inability to blanket the Flyers’ offense for more than a night at a time. There’s simply too much firepower on three different lines to see everyone go cold. That also creates great opportunities for guys like JVR, who, like Leino last season, may not be as high on the radar as some of the other Flyers, but he’s every bit as dangerous.
With his second pro season coming to a close, it’s a great sign to see how much JVR is using his size to protect the puck while carrying it, as well as to bang behind the net. With his scoring touch on a line with the multitalented Richards and Versteeg, he could have a great run this spring.
Mark Trible: With their well-documented success this season, I’m not sure the Flyers have any player that would be classified as a ‘breakout’ star if they perform admirably in the playoffs. The closest thing to such a designation may be James van Riemsdyk if he can play consistently. This season, there have been games where JVR looks to be fulfilling the promise of a 2nd overall draft pick. Other times, he is less than invisible. If he consistently uses his size and talent, he could be in for a coming out party in the playoffs.
Pavialax: I expect great things from the Nodl-Giroux-Carter line. I hear many of the Jeff Carter critics say that #17 disappears in the playoffs, but I think he will have a good postseason to punctuate his very good regular season. If James van Riemsdyk’s nagging groin issue is not a factor, I think he has the potential to have a good postseason run. As we saw from the Islanders game on Saturday, when he works hard and moves his feet, he is a dangerous player. It’s going to be about doing the little things for JVR. To be honest, the potential is there for several players to show up big in the playoffs. There are so many players on this team that command respect and many possibilities for a breakout star or line.