Flyers Chemistry a problem or anecdote??
There have been many articles and reviews analyzing the Philadelphia Flyers’ post season face lift which has made a team suffering from Worst Place Hangover look like a possible contender again. And in all the articles I read, most opinionates agree that the Flyers do look much improved and should make the playoffs this upcoming season. However, there is a lot of talk of chemistry being the Achilles heel of the Flyers and could prove detrimental to the team’s success.
I, myself, was skeptical of so many moves in such a short period of time and also felt like they were gonna need at least a season or two to get going. But, after my own analysis, I formulated a different opinion.
Of the Flyers’ four lines, lines 1 & 2 are gonna have a the biggest changes. Richards and Kapanen will charge lines 3 & 4 and they will remain fairly intact. The chemistry issues lie in Lines 1 & 2 and, of course, on defense.
First off, there already exists more chemistry and comfort on this team than meets the eye. It’s not like it’s a bunch of guys shaking hands for the first time.
Timonen and Hartnell are both from Nashville and already familiar with eachother on the ice. Plus they are buddies and came over together as a joint decision. Not to mention, the already up and coming fan favorite Scottie Upshall, who fit in very nicely once arriving in Philadelphia, is also a former Predator and has spoken very highly of his former teammates Timonen and Hartnell. As an added bonus, Upshall and Lupul are best of friends and knew eachother as kids in Canada playing together in the World Juniors. In fact, Upshall was the one to break the news to Lupul that he had been traded to Philly. And, of course, Jason Smith and Lupul are from Edmonton and have a season of experience together.
I expect a combo for the Flyers secondline to be:
This line would be equipped with so much speed and shooting it should make for some very entertaining hockey.
Then there’s Danny Briere. I don’t know about anyone else, but as a Flyers Fan I hated him….and yet, could not be happier he is now a Flyer. He used to kill the Flyers on every occasion and is proving to be a natural playmaker. Not a 20-something year old Forsberg, but not many are. This guy was just as much a key to the Sabers as Drury. Drury just always scored those last second goals which got more playoff notoriety. Briere is exciting to watch and something the Flyers desperately needed. He can skate the puck and transition the play excellently. Now, put him with Gagne, and fireworks should likely occur. Gagne has played with and without Forsberg and still kept up his goal total. He was centered by Forsberg, Carter, and Richards for moments last season and still played his game. He still likes to shoot the puck into the seats once in a while, but is still an effective goal scorer. There should be no reason he and Briere don’t click. Then there Knuble. The quietest 30 goal scorer in the league. Knuble is just a great worker who plays on every and any line and always produces. He’s a class guy and a solid power forward. At 6’3 225 he’ll be good for Briere to have on the wing. These 3 guys will have great potential together.
Onto defense….well, the flyers defense sucked. Flat out. Any change was better. Since it was already being retooled with younger guys (Coburn, Kukonen,Picard) there is no harm bringing in some proven veteran talent…who can actually skate! Pitkanen was not the answer to their prayers. The guy does not have the intensity to be a top NHL defensemen. Never sacrifices his body, gets lost on the power play, and loves to skate down the left wing at top speed only to shoot the puck to the left side of net. He must have done that same move 40 or 50 times last year! Their future is in guys like Parent and Coburn. Having Timonen to add life to a barely-breathing powerplay and Smith to add some much needed leadership to this core of young talent can only help. Hatcher still can play a role but I think he realizes his time is dwindling. There should not be any tug of war over captaincy having brought in 3 former captains. All these guys are looking for a fresh start and the chance to build a Stanley Cup team.
It’s not as though the Flyers pulled a Rangers trademark by signing a bunch of already grained talent. That doesn’t work. Buying up a bunch of 30+ year olds who are great but already set in their ways and mixing them together is a bad method. This Flyers team is mostly a group of guys now approaching their prime. They will learn together and grow together. What the Flyers have added is what they direly needed. Youth, speed, leadership and more speed. Now, I’m not saying they’re gonna be contending for the Cup this year, or next. However, for all the moves they made, it does not look like putting this group of guys together for the first time is gonna be as difficult as many believe.
My biggest question mark actually lies behind the bench in John Stevens. I hope he has the gahonies to lead this team to the promise land!!