Flyers hoping massive changes pay off
Apparently, not being able to rally from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series against Boston is cause for blowing up a team in Philadelphia.
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The Flyers couldn't repeat their historic comeback this spring as the Bruins avenged that humiliating 2010 defeat with a convincing sweep of Philadelphia en route to Boston's first Stanley Cup since 1972.
The Flyers haven't won the Cup since 1975, and despite reaching the final just a year ago, they spent the summer undertaking a radical overhaul of their roster with a series of trades and signings. Will all the changes pay off? Or will the Flyers regret dismantling a club that came within a pair of wins of taking home that championship just last year?
2010-11 record: 47-23-12, 106 points (1st Atlantic Division; 2nd Eastern Conference; beat Buffalo 4-3 in first round, lost to Boston 4-0 in second round of playoffs)
Key additions: G Ilya Bryzgalov (trade with Phoenix); F Wayne Simmonds (trade with Los Angeles); F Brayden Schenn (trade with Los Angeles); F Jakub Voracek (trade with Columbus); F Jaromir Jagr (free agent); F Maxime Talbot (free agent); D Andreas Lilja (free agent); G Jason Bacashihua (free agent)
Key losses: F Mike Richards (traded to Los Angeles); F Jeff Carter (traded to Columbus); F Dan Carcillo (signed with Chicago); D Sean O'Donnell (signed with Chicago); F Nikolay Zherdev (signed with Atlant Mytishchi, KHL); F Kris Versteeg (traded to Florida); F Darroll Powe (traded to Minnesota); D Danny Syvret (signed with St. Louis); D Nick Boynton (free agent)
Burning question: Is Ilya Bryzgalov the missing piece for the Flyers?
The Flyers made many changes this offseason, but the biggest move may have been finally addressing their age-old lack of a bona fide No. 1 netminder. They filled that void by trading for the rights to impending free agent Bryzgalov, then signing him to a mammoth nine-year, $51 million deal. Gone are the days of the Flyers loading up everywhere else and seeking bargains in the crease.
But is Bryzgalov really the answer? He's coming off a solid regular season in Phoenix (36-20-10, 2.48 GAA, .921 save percentage), but was once again shaky in the postseason. He was 0-4 with a 4.36 GAA and an .879 save percentage as the Coyotes were swept by Detroit in the opening round. He wasn't much better the previous year (3.44 GAA, .906 save percentage) when Phoenix lost to the Red Wings in seven games in the first round, and overall is just 12-13 with a 2.55 GAA in the postseason.
2011-12 outlook: The Flyers are banking not only on Bryzgalov delivering in the postseason, but on Jaromir Jagr still being capable of producing in the NHL after the 39-year-old spent the past three seasons in the KHL. They'll need him to put up points after trading away captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. The Flyers also lost much of their physical presence with the departure of Richards, agitator Dan Carcillo and veteran defenseman Sean O'Donnell. With Chris Pronger expected to miss at least the start of camp after offseason back surgery, the Flyers will need others to step up and fill the void in both leadership and physical play.
Did you know? How dramatic has the turnover in Philadelphia been? The Flyers' Game 7 rally against the Bruins in the second round of the 2010 playoffs was just 15 months ago, but 10 of the 20 Philadelphia players dressed that night are no longer with the organization. In addition, nine of the 13 injured players and healthy scratches with the team for that series are also gone.