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Have the Philadelphia Flyers Gotten Better or Worse?

Written by Jim Biringer
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The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off a disappointing season. The Flyers lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Boston Bruins. For most teams in the league that would be a considered a successful season, but not for this team. The previous year the Flyers had went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost in game six to the Chicago Blackhawks. That group believed they could get back to the same place this past season; however that was not the case. The Flyers had a good strong group of core players that been there for many years and the team had signed some veterans to help the youngsters develop. The Flyers were hit with the injury bug especially their big defenseman Chris Pronger who missed most of the season with several ailments. This set back did not stop the Flyers from storming out to a big lead in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers struggled down the stretch and their inconsistent play was their down fall in the playoffs. Not to mention their non-stable position of goaltender. The Flyers started three different goalies in the playoffs and that strategy is not a receipt for success. Management knew the team was good enough to win, but was it was missing a piece.

Enter Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov the goaltender of the Phoenix Coyotes made it clear to management that he would not resign with the Coyotes. He wanted to play for a contender. The Flyers traded for Bryzgalov’s rights. If they could sign him to a deal, he would give the Flyers a much-needed boost in goal. The position of goaltender for the Flyers has been an issue since Ron Hextall left. The position was seen more of a carousel than a solid component. If the Flyers were going to sign Bryzgalov the organization needed to know how he was going to fit under the salary cap. The organization made two surprising moves to sign this player. The Flyers traded Jeff Carter to Columbus and Captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles. In return Columbus sent Philadelphia Jakub Voracek and their 2011 1st round pick. Los Angeles in turn sent Wayne Simmonds and Braydon Schenn to the Flyers. After theses moves were made the Flyers announced they agreed to terms with Bryzgalov and they signed him to a nine year $51 million contract. There was no question who would be the starting goalie from now in Philadelphia.

Many fans were shocked at these transactions, and they could not understand why both men had to the leave the organization. Rumors swarmed around the organization about Jeff Carter and his potential trade, but he was the captain of the team. Richards has been on the league’s radar after his hit on David Booth several seasons ago.  Only the future will tell if these moves are going to make the Flyers better. The team was clicking on all cylinders except against the Bruins. Philadelphia realized they needed to get stronger in one position and management decided sacrifice in other positions in an effort to solidify the goalie position. The Flyers added depth on offense, and the players they got from Columbus and Los Angeles will fit in nicely with the youngsters like James Van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux. Not to mention Daniel Briere who is the focal point of the Flyers offense. However, the Flyers were not done as they added Jaromir Jagr, who was returning to the NHL for the first time since 2008, and Maxime Talbot in the first couple days of free agency. Even with these new players added to the mix had the Flyers made their team better to get them over the top? Only time will tell.

Bryzgalov in a press conference held on Monday said, “He is ready to for the pressure that comes with being the Flyers goaltender.” He knows the Flyers have not won the Stanley Cup since 1975 and he is ready to help them win. The pressure is not just on the ice but in the stands as well. The fans can turn quick on a team if they are not performing well. The expectations are high for the Flyers considering the organization shipped out two of its biggest names to bring in a player order to solidify its goaltending position.

The future looks good for the Flyers with so much young talent in the organization. The Flyers may take a step back before they can take a step forward. If Bryzgalov is going to play almost every game the Flyers are in trouble. He was exhausted against the Red Wings this year in the playoffs. He must stay rested for the team to be successful. The Flyers must keep him rested for a deep run in the playoffs. Look for the Flyers to be a formidable opponent for any team this year.

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