With the Eagles offseason drama, I am ready for some HOCKEY!. The Flyers are ready and here they come. After the type of season they had last under new head coach, Alain Vigneault, how could you not be excited. The Philadelphia Flyers begin their 56-game abridged season toward the Stanley Cup this Wednesday the 13th. Philly will open the NHL season with a meeting against the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. Let take a look at what the 2021 Flyers are all about.
Here Comes Gustafsson
After Matt Niskanen’s surprise retirement Chuck Fletcher had to shuffle the deck. So what does the team do? They signed Erik Gustafsson. Former 4th rounder, Gustafsson is an offensive defenseman. Gustafsson put up 60 points and finished sixth in the NHL among D-men in 2018. He took a while to hit his stride with Calgary after the trade. He did score 4 points through 10 postseason appearances in the Bubble. The question is can he carry this over to the orange and black? He notes to be getting comfortable in the Flyers’ system. He has even been getting noticed by teammates and coaches alike.
Can Hayes Continue from Last Year?
I do not think anyone saw this coming after Kevin Hayes signed the 7-year deal. Hayes turned out to be an integral part of the team’s success last year. Guys like Joel Farabee seemed to play better just being on the ice with him. Travis Konecny or Scott Laughton on the opposite side seemed to spark the Flyers. Now adding Giroux to the mix should only make things more interesting.
Nolan Patrick Ready For Return?
The second overall pick in the 2017 draft was stricken with debilitating migraines. Patrick has not played Flyers hockey since April 2, 2019, and long-term concerns began to plague him. Patrick was cleared for contact and showed no hesitation during some light action. It is too early to decide if Patrick would be ready for opening night, per coach Vigneault.
Some Pairing Excitement
The amazing story that is Lindblom, the most exciting thing is having him back hopefully play the way he did early 2019. The pairing of Lindblom, Couturier, and Konecny has “awesome” written all over it. This is a versatile line combination that could be the first or second line. In a short time, they were together, the Lindblom-Konecny duo was one of the best young pairs in the league. Having Couturier center them brings a world of possibilities.
Giroux, Hayes, and Farabee isn’t a line that the Flyers have tried before, but it could very interesting. Giroux and Hayes played together a bit last season but Hayes and Farabee have some great connections. They were usually joined by Konecny on the right side, so having Giroux there could enhance the entire team.
JVR, Patrick, and Voracek could be a powerful force. This line would be the Flyers’ third line, but it could really be top six on some teams in the NHL. Voracek is a top-line winger that would help carry play with JVR and Patrick. JVR is probably going to end up in the bottom six simply due to the team’s depth, but he’s still a 20-goal forward and should put up around 15 goals this season. Paring Patrick with two vets is smart especially with his health questions.
The fourth line was different makers last year. Raffl, Laughton, and Aube-Kubel are all great two-way players that could easily be in the top nine. This fourth line will piss off many teams. Depth is everything. The Flyers have one of the deepest forward group in the NHL.
Provorov and his partner Gostisbehere on the top pair is probably the team’s biggest question heading into the season. Sanheim and Myers have come up through the system together and formed quite the duo last season. They are both still a bit raw and make rookie-type mistakes at times, but they usually have the speed and skill to make up for it. The pair of Hagg and Gustafsson has great potential. It’s a defensive defenseman with a more offensive defenseman. Hagg can do the heavy lifting while Gustafsson can get the puck moving. Braun is going to be in the Flyers lineup. He was re-signed to help replace Matt Niskanen and Myers is the only other right-handed defenseman in this group. It’s possible that he slides right in to replace Niskanen on the top pair, or I could see a Hagg-Braun defensive pair.
The Flyers are ready and here they come. The Philadelphia Flyers drop the puck this Wednesday against the Penguins. For a great Flyers break down click here.