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.
The production from rookies has been integral to the success of the Flyers this season. After the grind of the long regular season, will the rookies take a step back once they enter the uncharted territory of the postseason?
Kevin Christmann: Even though I listed the rookies as a reason why the Flyers won’t win the Cup, I don’t know if I’d say I expect them to take a step back during the post-season. However, I don’t expect them to step up either. As mentioned before, they’ve been good all year; not great. I see no reason why that would be any different during the postseason. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were disappointing to other Flyers fans. I’m of the opinion that Flyers fans’ enthusiasm about these rookies in 2-3 years clouds their vision of them in the here and now. I think fans see them as great right now, and I don’t. So, no I don’t see them taking a step back; I see them continuing to be good, solid players for the Flyers. I’d expect their minutes to decrease slightly anyway.
Danny Ricciardi: Many have said that the rookie success will die down in the postseason, and anyone has the right to feel that way, given the inexperience and pressure our rookies will face. Personally, I don’t see a drop off in production from the young guys when the calendar turns over to April. I feel that if we win the Cup, it will be with significant contributions from every rookie on this team. Guys like Read and Schenn will make their presence felt more than ever, and I feel as though they will elevate their game to a much higher level. Rookies like Couturier and Rinaldo will certainly play their defensively responsible roles, as well as wreak havoc for opposing teams on the forecheck and penalty kill. Let’s face the facts, through 76 games, there have been 8 different rookies to register a goal, totaling 55 for the year. Those 55 goals have accounted for 23% of the team’s entire offense. Every rookie has a specific role on this team and, as they have all season, will be key ingredients to a deep playoff run. If there is a drop-off in rookie production, we’ll be in for another abbreviated stint in the postseason.
Kevin Keating: You have to wonder when the other shoe will drop, but so far the Flyers rookies have exceeded all expectations. the excitement of the playoffs should sustain them for awhile. If the Flyers manage to go deep into the playoffs though, it will be something to keep an eye on. It’ll be interesting to see how Sean Couturier handles the playoffs. He’s playing a crucial role in shutting down the opposition’s top threats, so how he handles the grind will speak volumes.
Craig Forsythe: As I said in the previous question, I think it could be the downfall of this team. It’s hard to win in the playoffs if rookies play a key role in all aspects of your game and they don’t show up. Players like Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and Brayden Schenn need to play at the level they have all season if the Flyers hope to advance in the playoffs. This is especially true when the defense is consistently missing a crucial piece (Chris Pronger and Andrej Meszaros out, Kimmo Timonen and Pavel Kubina missing games) and a big contributor on offense is a 40-year-old. If the younger players can follow the lead of the veterans, I think Philly will be fine.