The Flyers overcame an awful start to make the playoffs last season and with a full training camp under head coach Craig Berube, this should be a team to watch on the NHL odds.
What Went Wrong Last Season?
The Flyers were simply awful over the first two months of last season, and it led to a coaching change as Berube replaced Peter Laviolette. Once the team got used to how Berube wanted to play, the Flyers took off and finished with 94 points, which was good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. Claude Giroux played like a man possessed and was still left off the Canadian national team at the Olympics, which worked out well for the Flyers. In the playoffs, they lost to the New York Rangers in a tough seven-game series. Interestingly enough, it was the Flyers offense that disappeared in the postseason. Normally, it’s their goaltending that fails them but Steve Mason proved to be quite capable last year.
Considering how they started out, they should be happy with how last season went and they can build on that this season. They were 20th in goals allowed and while that’s better than what they’ve done in previous years, they still need to get better in that area.
The Flyers traded away Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackers for R.J. Umberger, but other than that, they were relatively quiet during the offseason. They did pick up Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz, and those two could be the key to Philadelphia’s season as the defense needs to improve. The team lost Kimmo Timonen to a blood clot injury and he’ll be out indefinitely. The Flyers also re-signed Brayden Schenn and Ray Emery to deals to stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
As always, you have to start in goal with the Flyers, and it looks like Steve Mason is the guy, but Emery started three playoff games and Berube wasn’t afraid to give either the hook. If Del Zotto and Schultz play well, that could be a huge boost for the Flyers in front of goal – no matter who is between the pipes. Up front, the Flyers have all sorts of weapons, starting with Giroux, who is one of the best players in the NHL. He’s the captain of this team and at 26 years old, he should be just coming into his own. If he can stay healthy, he will challenge for the scoring title. Wayne Simmonds scored 29 goals last season and is a genuine power forward and with Hartnell gone, he should have even more chances.
This is a tough, hard-nosed and bruising team that plays like Berube, a legendary enforcer in the NHL with Philadelphia, used to play, but they need to stay disciplined. With a full season and camp under Berube, this should be a top-four team in the East. Do they have what it takes to challenge a team like the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins or the Rangers? When considering your NFL picks its worth noting that if their defense improves, the sky is the limit for the Flyers.
NHL Pick: A Top-Four Finish in the East, Eliminated in the Conference Finals