Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview

Disclaimer: Pens Labyrinth will not post any Flyers logos on this site. Pens Labyrinth only sees Philadelphia as a city in a state on a map and a team that happens to be in the NHL.

They’re going to win the Stanley Cup, right?

What do you mean they won’t? They acquired 35-year-old Chris Pronger for four first-round draft picks (two future ones, two previous ones).

What do you mean that doesn’t matter? They have Ray Emery to hold the fort between the pipes.

Still no?

Fine, you’re right.

The fact of the matter is that while the Philadelphia Flyers seemingly are one step closer to getting over that hump to advance to the Cup finals, in actuality they’ve taken a few steps back.

It is no secret that the Flyers acquired Pronger to stop the likes of Crosby, Malkin and/or Alexander Ovechkin. But do you really think three elite, still emerging, award-winning forwards are shaking in their ice skates at the thought of a 35-year-old immobile pylon playing defense against them?

Of course not.

And if he will be as effective as Flyers Nation believes, is it enough to advance to the Stanley Cup finals?

It doesn’t appear as if, frankly.

To acquire Pronger the Flyers gave up Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa. While they aren’t the most dynamic players the NHL has ever scene, they carry with them the type of repertoire required for the “New NHL,” i.e. mobility, speed and skill.

Pronger is what the old NHL was about. Someone who will clutch and grab and impede, among other things.

The Flyers lost to the Penguins the past two seasons because they couldn’t compete with Pittsburgh’s offensive talent and depth. Goaltending was an issue, too.

Philadelphia might very well see much of the same in 2009-10. They’ve lost a top-six forward and mobility on defense. As for Ray Emery, he is an usher and will gladly escort black rubber pucks to their seat, the net.

The Flyers have a lot of great players on their team. They were a correct move or two away from being the team that could compete against Pittsburgh and Washington.

Instead, they blew it.

Let’s remember that if the Flyers finish 82-0-0, it will mean nothing unless they advance to the Cup finals. That’s what their organizational goal is.

They may do well in the regular season, and even in the playoffs, but they don’t have enough to get over the hump. The deadline may reveal otherwise, but for now, don’t plan any parades, Philadelphia.

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  • Anonymous

    The Flyers traded a slacking and streaky forward who it seems only liked being in Philadelphia so he could go out drinking with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and knowingly wasn’t in great shape, and an undersized defenseman who was used as a forward for a good part of his time up in the NHL, for Chris Pronger. Call him a pylon, call him useless, call him ineffective, whatever. He’s better than Joffery Lupul (who produced only two more points than Pronger in ’08-09) and Luca Sbisa (and I have little doubt that Sbisa will be a solid D-man, but he’s still developing and isn’t there yet, from what we’ve seen from him as a Flyer).

    You say the Flyers were a step or two away from being a truly contending team. And instead the organization blew it. Fine. You tell me what they should have done. Who do they get? Should they have gotten Bouwmeester instead? Wouldn’t you just be saying how he’s not proven and is seemingly soft? If they didn’t get anybody, wouldn’t you be saying their defense isn’t good enough? And in goal: no one knows how Ray Emery will do, but he’s a highly motivated individual. Were you one of the people who thought Marty Biron wasn’t good enough to take the Flyers ‘over the hump’? Who should have been their goalie, recognizing Biron wanted 4 or 5 year contract somewhere in the $4-5m range (which he’s obviously not worth), and had to settle for being Islanders goalie #3 to save him from ending up in Russia?

    Seriously. You tell me. What are the couple of moves the Flyers should have made? Should they have waited until July 22 to have an actual starting goalie under contract? Who should have been their starting goalie? How do you improve their defense? How do you fit all this under the cap? Is the team supposed to take a few years off and hope that during that time they can draft and develop a good goalie in the system? I’d like to know what you think could have been done differently, and I’ll be more than happy to be proven wrong.

  • Sergei Feldman

    My primary criticism about the acquisition of Chris Pronger is that there is seemingly a sentiment among media and Philadelphia fans that the move transforms the Flyers into bona fide contenders. I disagree with the notion because I find that the team should’ve taken a different approach to solidify itself before seeking to acquire someone like Pronger. In other words, they had more important issues to take care of, i.e. goaltending and mobility on defense. Acquiring Pronger, in my opinion, represented a sweeping under the rug act by management to disguise the team’s defensive woes. “We’ll have that big pillar on defense.” “We got a true bruiser to handle Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, etc.” Was the acquisition exclusively to defeat Pittsburgh or Washington? Of course not. For all we know, the Islanders might evolve into the East’s most potent team. Crazy things happen. The Flyers have to consider staying afloat in the division and conference. They need to prepare to defeat any opponent in the East. I get that. I also get that Pronger might help in many, many ways. But it seems to me that the Flyers are hanging onto the notion that bruising will prevail. It won’t. It will come back to haunt you. It pains me to admit this, but I like Mike Richards. He should be what Flyers fans consider “tough.” Not someone who paralyzes someone after a whistle, but someone who is just simply tough to play against. Getting Pronger means hanging on to the past, as far as I’m concerned. Forget about that kind of style. No. Forget that. I mean adjust accordingly to the new notion of physicality. Hartnell and Pronger suggest “Uh oh.” I agree with that. But the “Uh oh” is what Flyers fans will be saying when they take the unnecessary penalty. I feel the Flyers should’ve taken an alternate route, in terms of looking to upgrade on defense. As for the goaltending, just because Ray Emery was the only available option given Biron’s inconsistent play or unjustified contractual demands, doesn’t mean the ultimate decision to sign him was wise. Can I agree that the Flyers were somewhat handcuffed by salary cap implications or other reasons? Of course. But I’m just looking at the facts. Ray Emery was brought in to be the No. 1 goalie. You can’t honestly be confident with that heading into the season. And as for my praising of players like Lupul and Sbisa, I only meant to accentuate the type of repertoire those players have on paper. Skilled, mobile, talented. In other words, their skill-set is required in the new NHL. The Flyers should’ve attempted to seek talent similar to that of Lupul and Sbisa, but find it in non-underachievers. Is that a challenge? Yeah. That’s why not every team is a contender. The teams that have those types of players and depth are the ones that will in all likelihood prevail. If I’m a Flyers fan, I’d recognize that there are flaws that might be detrimental. I also recognize that while Pronger may be a proven commodity, he very well may be past his prime. In other words, I’d be weary. That’s all I’m saying. If I’m criticizing anything it is the organizational philosophy.

  • hmm

    My problem with your assessment is that it was lazily written and purely pro pens (if you’re trying to have any credibility at all and attract anyone other than sheep fans you should probably try to post things that as objectively as possible). Pronger is not a pylon, and he is not unfit for the new nhl. I’m pretty sure that oilers team that got to the finals and that ducks that team that won it (and got to the conference finals last year) were not impeded by pronger’s unbelievable defensive, passing, and power abilities. You are a joke and should not be taken seriously by anyone with even a modicum of hockey knowledge.

    • Sergei Feldman

      “…were not impeded by Pronger’s unbelievable defensive, passing, and power abilities.” Sounds objective enough to me.