Flyers Faithful is pleased to have Kevin Christmann from Of Ice and Men, Danny Ricciardi from The Orange Update, Kevin Keating from Broad Street Buzz, and our own Craig Forsythe participate in the current iteration of Five Questions. This is the first of a five part series focusing on the playoffs.
Why will the Flyers win the Stanley Cup this year? Why won’t they?
Kevin Christmann: The Flyers will win the Stanley Cup because they’ve already faced an incredible amount of adversity. Their goaltender was putting up numbers that aren’t even deserving of being in the NHL. Their captain has been lost for the entire season, if not longer; and they’ve had a number of other injuries to key players. Additionally, they made smart acquisitions near the trade deadline to fill their needs. They have the depth to win it all.
The Flyers won’t win the Stanley Cup for two reasons, and they are the same two concerns I had with this team during the off-season. Firstly, the rookies. As good as they’ve been all season, the playoffs are another animal. I tend to curb both my expectations and enthusiasm quite often, but I haven’t seen enough to make me as ecstatic as some. They’ve had good seasons, not great seasons; and I think they need more time before they can become impact players. The second reason the Flyers won’t win the Cup is the lack of a shut-down center. The Flyers clearly don’t miss Richards and Carter offensively, but I’m of the opinion they desperately miss them defensively. Giroux’s efforts against top lines are admirable, but, like we saw during the last game against Pittsburgh, he can’t handle the Malkins of the league.
Danny Ricciardi: Having a vested interest in this team, it would be against my fandom to say they won’t win the Cup. As Coach Laviolette said in 24/7, “If you go into a season and your expectations aren’t to win the Cup, then you’ve already sold yourself short.” Sure, there are a lot of variables and things that have to fall into place for that to happen, but as Flyers fans, we enter every season with the expectation of a championship. That’s why this year’s not any different.
The Flyers will win the Cup this year because they finally have a lock at the goaltending position, and a solid roster from top to bottom. Even though we have a very young core, having the confidence to roll out our 3rd and 4th lines against another team’s top line says a lot about the makeup of your team. If you look at the past Stanley Cup Championship rosters, they’ve all had a certain amount of scoring, grit, young talent, defense and goaltending. The current roster Paul Holmgren has put together makes us contenders not only this year, but for years to come. With the intensity of this team when they’re on their game, I can truly see the Flyers winning the Cup. Compared to other seasons, there’s a confidence about this team that always has fans thinking they can win. It’s a matter of hitting a groove entering the big dance, and if your team is hot, why wouldn’t they have a chance to win?
Kevin Keating: As much as it pains me to say, the Flyers will not win the Cup this year. Barring some help, and a little bit of luck, the Flyers will finish 4th or 5th. That will put them against the Rangers or Penguins. The lack of success against the Rangers this year is a cause for concern, but either series will be incredibly physical and draining. The playoffs are essentially a war of attrition anyway, but these first round draws will be incredibly taxing, and will ultimately wear them down before the Cup is paraded down Broad Street.
Craig Forsythe: The Flyers will win the Stanley Cup this year because the defense is clicking and Bryzgalov is getting hot at the right time of the season. A team can’t win the Cup without defense and goaltending. With that being said, it’s hard to argue Bryzgalov isn’t one of the, if not the, hottest goalie in the league at the moment. The Flyers’ defense, with the additions of Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossmann, has become one of the more feared defensive units in the league. Add in the fact the Orange and Black’s penalty-kill unit has been playing amazing lately, would it surprise anybody if the Flyers won it all this season?
On the other hand, this team relies too much on rookies for their success. The Flyers lead the league in goals from rookies this season, which is wonderful for the regular season. Unfortunately, how rookies perform in the postseason is always crapshoot. They will either perform as expected or fold under the pressure of their first taste in the playoffs. If a player like Matt Read, a 20-goal scorer and key piece on the penalty kill, decides to fall apart in the playoffs the Flyers could have some problems. Also, the Flyers have dealt well with the issue of injuries this season, but that could become tricky in the postseason. It’s nice to beat the Washington Capitals 1-0 in March without JvR and Andrej Meszaros, but it’s a little harder to beat the Boston Bruins in a Game 7 without Claude Giroux and/or Scott Hartnell. Add in the team’s struggles with giving up the game’s first goal, usually with the first couple of minutes, and the fact Bryzgalov may miss time, the Flyers will need a lot of things to go in their favor for the title.