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Three Key Philadelphia Flyers Regular Season Points: Fan’s Take
The Philadelphia Flyers went to training camp last fall after a wild offseason that was filled with multiple roster moves. General manager Paul Holmgren's intent was to solidify the goal crease, adjust the skill level of his front lines and improve the atmosphere in 'the room'.
Head coach Peter Laviolette was obviously given a vote of confidence as he entered the 2011-12 regular season and was armed with a fresh set of tools. With Mike Richards and Jeff Carter gone, his message was sure to be heard and carried out. In effect, 'Homer' and 'Lavy' were on the same page and everyone who was wearing an orange sweater knew it.
Much has been rightfully been written about the Flyers top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr since last fall. Without their efforts this team would not be where it is in early April.
Let's take a look at three other points that have helped to define this season.
Key point #3: Adjustment to Pronger's loss
Whenever any professional hockey player is moving toward the age of 40, there are always understandable questions as to how effective he will continue to be.
Thirty-seven-year-old Chris Pronger was able to remain a shut-down defender because he kept himself in great physical condition and because he conserved energy through his use of exceptional positioning during his career. But, getting hit in the eye during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs last fall was never part of his work plan. That incident, like various others throughout the League, served as another reminder of how impressive a long hockey lifespan actually is.
Kimmo Timonen's All-Star presence and defensive depth within the Flyers system allowed the team to get by without their captain until Nicklas Grossmann was obtained from the Dallas Stars in a pre-trade deadline deal.
Key point #2: Bryz patted on the back
Professional sports has developed into a secular religion for a variety of personality types and those individuals need to find more within the games than simple wins and losses. That's where Ilya Bryzgalov's prophetic voice came into play this season for many of Philadelphia's faithful.
After an uneven first few months, 'Bryz' fell off an iced cliff as the Winter Classic game against the New York Rangers was approaching. Having obvious difficulties adjusting to a major hockey market and feeling the weight of his contract, every voracious writer (this one included) began speculating as to when the Flyers were going to attempt to move his big contract.
After a February meeting with a Flyers leadership group that included Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen, the number 1 netminder got the message. He was a part of the group and his teammates had his back.
It was during that specific time frame that Bryzgalov's mind allowed his true skill to be unleashed.
Key point #1: Young men reign
Matt Read (25), Wayne Simmonds (23), Sean Couturier (19), Jakub Voracek (22), Zac Rinaldo (21), Marc-Andre Bourdon (22) and Brayden Schenn (20) remind some of the Flyers young guns who skated three decades ago. That reference is, of course, to the mid-1980s teams that made two attempts to win the Stanley Cup.
These young men and others that are yet to come, represent the partial core of a team that should be a perennial contender.
All hardcore fans know that the collective efforts of every young Flyers player represent many key points in a very successful youth movement this season.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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