The captain Mike Richards edged out his teammate Jeff Carter by one point to lead the team in scoring with 62 points. Aside from his minus two rating, Richards helped fantasy owners across the board as his Philadelphia Flyers squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the season.
Carter, on the other hand, missed eight games of the season due to injury and could have led the team for the second straight season. The same age as Richards and just as lethal, the Flyers should continue to be successful due to their strength down the middle.
The rest of the team depends on if you see a glass half empty or half full.
Daniel Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux all potted over 40 points while playing Flyers style hockey. Anyone who watched the playoffs saw that this team scores with depth and scores often. This team will look to repeat this task in the regular season with players like Nikolai Zherdev, James van Riemsdyk and Ville Leino playing a larger role.
Zherdev should give the Flyers a lethal option on the right side and should thrive without pressure to be the top scorer and with more talented centers. Leino showed his raw skills in the playoffs, establishing himself as a force off the rush. In addition, it should be exciting to see what van Riemsdyk and Giroux can do with a full NHL season under their belt and playoff run.
If the team struggles to keep the puck out of the net as they did at stretches last season, they will fail to score goals at a regular clip. The confidence level definitely drops when the team needs to play from behind constantly.
Chris Pronger lead his team with 55 points and an excellent plus 22; at one point he led the league in that category. Including his 26 PPP and 79 PIM he was a top defender and an excellent bargain. He even made Matt Carle look great with 35 points and a plus 17 of his own.
As a third defenseman, Kimmo Timonen chugged away with a decent season of his own. Although he failed to top 40 points for the first time since 1999-2000. His partner Brayden Coburn regressed drastically but could be a candidate for a rebound year. Like a majority of the team, Coburn woke up in the playoffs and could come closer to his 36 point campaign of two years ago than his meager 19 point season.
Coburn could be the lone benefactor of Pronger missing time, which could very well happen.
Michael Leighton earned the job with an excellent regular season and even better playoff run. At times he looked like the team’s savior, but proved no match at the end as the Chicago Blackhawks eventually took the Cup. Honestly, his track record shows his inability to consistently be an NHL netminder. While pointing to Craig Anderson as an example makes sense, there are too many flash-in-the-pan goalies.
If Leighton does falter, the next best options in the pipeline would be Brian Boucher, Jeremy Duchesne and Johan Backlund. Another year of the Flyers spending little to nothing between the pipes.
On the Bench:
Peter Laviolette did almost everything he needed to when the Flyers hired him. After the team faltered under John Stevens, they somewhat responded to his up-tempo style by making the playoffs and advancing to the Finals. His job looks to be in no immediate danger for at least this season but he will need to improve his 28-24-5 record in the regular season to keep it that way. As the first coach to win the Cup after the lockout, this team could be in much worse hands moving forward.
The Bottom Line:
The Flyers overachieved in the playoffs after underachieving in the regular season. Next season they will likely finish somewhere in between. A return to the Stanley Cup finals would be pretty ambitious when considering the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals hold more explosive offenses. The changes the team made in the offseason should keep them in the mix even though they will miss their longest termed player in Gagne.