It’s almost time for the 2019-20 edition of the Philadelphia Flyers to take to the ice in the Czech Republic to face off against the Chicago Blackhawks. Before that though, after a summer of waiting, debating, hemming and hawing it’s time to dive into a preview and predictions, that will inevitably be used as Twitter fodder at a later date in the season.
We’ve got some of the best and brightest from Yellow Jacket Media to weight in, and we’ve got me too. So let’s get to it.
It was a busier offseason then we’ve seen in a while for the Flyers. Just doing some quick math, we’ve subtracted Andrew MacDonald, Ryan Hartman, Radko Gudas, Cam Talbot, and Michal Neuvirth. Kevin Hayes, Justin Braun, Tyler Pitlick and Mat Niskanen have all been brought on board. Alain Vigneault, Michelle Therieen, and Mike Yeo have fully replaced the behind the bench coaching staff. They also revamped the Phantoms roster, and Chuck Fletcher has put the young guns like Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, and Phil Myers in position to be NHL players soon rather than later.
The start of the season won’t be easy, because they are the Flyers. They need to build chemistry and fast, and the defense in particular needs some tinkering. Robert Hagg is clinging to a job with Sam Morin and Phil Myers hot on his tail. The back end offense, should improve under Vigneault, but will need returns to form from Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere. It’s also time for another step forward from Travis Sanhiem in his 2nd full year with the club.
The forward group should have a very good top six arrangement. We know that Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek should all produce somewhere between 60-80 points on average, with the potential for more. James van Riemsdyk being healthy should see increased power play numbers and goal scoring, and Oskar Lindblom seems like and evolving talent at forward. Adding Kevin Hayes as a 2nd center rounds out that group, and if everyone performs to expectations this team will put up points. As usual though, the Flyers bottom six forwards is in flux. Presumed 3rd/4th liner Tyler Pitlick is coming back from injury, and Nolan Patrick is dealing with a severe migraine condition, which has put more than just his season start in doubt. We might see Joel Farabee if Patrick hits long term injured reserve and Flyers get cap relief, but until then we get a look at Conner Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski, who will both look to use this chance to stick with the big club.
The goaltending *should* be a source of if not strength, but consistency. Carter Hart is now the starter and Brian Elliot his veteran backup. While a learning curve is expected, Hart has exceeded expectations at every level and the projections say he could be excellent. Brian Elliot seems to perform well when he’s backing up a younger talent, as evidenced by his time in St. Louis battling Jake Allen for time back when Allen was a hotshot himself.
As far as the season, the Metro Division is a dogfight. A few of the teams got better (Devils, Rangers) and the others stayed competitive (Capitals, Islanders, Penguins, Hurricanes) so getting into a top 3 or wild card position will be difficult. That being said, the Flyers talent underperformed last season and they managed to stay within striking distance despite an awful start, coaching change, and having to play 8 goalies. It’s not a guarantee but this is a team that should be in the hunt, and with father time ticking, has to make a playoff run sooner rather than later.
To achieve this, we’re looking at a 100 point season. If they manage that, they’ll be a wild card team, and then all bets are off.
Now let’s hear from Nat Marlowe who sums up the uphill climb the Flyers face.
AV said it best. There are no more excuses with this team! It’s time for the organization and its fans to raise the expectations of what this team can accomplish.
I personally have higher hopes for this team compared to the vast majority of Flyers fans. No one thought that the Carolina Hurricanes would make the run that they did or even make the playoffs with Petr Mrazek in net, and losing Jeff Skinner and Noah Hanifin. The Flyers’ success this season is primarily going to come down to three things: Staying healthy, having an active D-core, and Carter Hart remaining consistent with his talent and ability in net. If they’re able to maintain all three of those, I think that this team can make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Do I think they can win the Cup? No. Do I think they can make it to the Cup Finals? No. Do I think they can make a playoff run and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals? Yes. Too many people are writing this team off already, but the potential to win is the highest it’s been in years.
We have another optimistic prediction as well from David Malandra Jr, who is focusing on one player in Carter Hart, who may be the most important piece the Flyers have in place.
David Malandra Jr
Carter Hart will have a GAA of 2.90 and get 40 Wins and be named a finalist for Vezina Trophy.
We all seem to be on the optimistic side here at Yellow Jacket. Let’s hope that our hopes, and the hopes of other optimistic fans aren’t instantly dashed today at 2!