Which Flyer will find the most success on the Power Play?
AM: Old reliable on the power play unit has always been Claude Giroux. His more recent PP success came when he played on the right side and, if that’s where he sees most of his PP minutes again, I don’t see him slowing down this season. Whether it is powerplay goals or assists, Giroux typically has a hand in each special teams point acquired.
RA: In terms of who is on each unit, I honestly have no idea. However, I do think that we get some different looks than we had last year since it was evident that nothing that they were doing was working at all. I think Ghost has a bounceback year since he’ll have some more opportunities to be on the powerplay.
Along with him, Giroux will probably lead the team in power-play points as he always does. On another note, Ivan Provorov has a chance to further solidify his case for being an elite defenseman since he’ll likely be playing 5v5, powerplay, and PK as well. Look for G to lead the team in points, but also look to see a number of different combinations to see if they can get their power play corrected before it’s too late.
ER: The Flyers are enlisting four forwards and a defenseman on both powerplay units this season. Claude Giroux is a great pick here, but Chuck Fletcher sought a defenseman who is a powerplay specialist. By the season’s end, I believe Erik Gustafsson will prove his worth. Ivan Provorov is on the first powerplay unit, but don’t be surprised if that changes through the course of the season. Gustafsson will be a powerplay force and win me over as to why he was brought into Philadelphia.
MS: if you’re talking goals, TK as he will be the down-low guy pouncing on loose pucks. In terms of points, it’s gonna be G or Provy at the point.
LJ: I’m going to go with a wildcard here – Ivan Provorov. Donning the ‘A’ for home games this season, I think he has a great chance to continue to contribute heavily on that first power-play unit. If he’s at the point, we could see more assists than I’ve had cups of tea this week!
Who tallies the highest PIM?
AM: I want to leave PIM to the young guys. They often draw the most penalties whether they mean to or not but it all comes with growing as a player. My mind instantly goes to Philippe Myers as he’s usually in the mix with a good or bad penalty taken. Last season, Myers had a good amount of clean up to take care of. Should the careless minors pile up again, I’d say Myers is a lock.
RA: The Flyers did not take many penalties last year, and their discipline definitely played a factor in their success. AV doesn’t have time to deal with that nonsense, and has made that clear in the past. Strangely enough, Farabee led the team in PIM with 39 despite playing 17 less games than the team’s second most penalized guy, Kevin Hayes. This year, I expect the Flyers to primarily stay out of the box, but I could see Phil Myers dropping the gloves a few times and being the team’s brute if Morin can’t crack the lineup consistently.
ER: This is a double-edged sword of sorts. While the Flyers were remarked by Vigneault as not being physical enough during the last postseason, he concocted a plan to make Samuel Morin a winger. He is on the taxi squad, so it’s likely he won’t see enough ice time to lead in penalty minutes. If Vigneault employs his strategy, however, Morin could be on the ice more than we all think. He wants to model his game off of the New York Islanders’ Matt Martin, who finished sixth on that team in PIM last season. It’s a dark horse candidate, but if Morin sees the ice time and plays physical, penalty minutes usually correlate.
MS: I am gonna say that it will be a toss up between Sanheim and Farabee. They were up there last season, Farabee may have developed more discipline to go along with his increased muscle and that could bring his PIM down. Sanheim is going to continue to battle against some of the best forwards and is in the position of all the defensemen to have high PIM.
LJ: Phil Myers very much became the Flyers’ janitor last season and as a result took a lot of penalty minutes on the chin. I can’t see that changing this season, although I think an extra-chirpy TK could be a close runner-up.
Which Flyer will have a breakout season?
AM: My optimism is showing here, but I have to say Nolan Patrick. I think Patrick has the most to prove and the gall to do it. He stepped into training camp not playing a game in 600-some odd days, played well, and scored in the scrimmage. He impressed the beat writers on sight and even had Brian Elliott saying things like, “that natural talent doesn’t just go away.”
RA: All bias aside here, this is the year that Lindblom has his breakout. We literally started to see him breakout alongside TK before his Ewing’s Sarcoma forced him off the rink. He’s going to be alongside two very talented players. He’ll be paired with TK on the wings with either Coots or Hayes centering them. Kevin Hayes is going to do Kevin Hayes things, and TK will likely draw more defensive attention this season. Not only is Oskar in a prime spot to sit atop the team in nearly every offensive category, but he’s going to continue to inspire us each and every time he touches the ice.
ER: In thinking of this, is Lindblom or Nolan Patrick a cop-out answer? Both are returning to the lineup this season after missing a lot of time in their career due to medical reasons. With the depth the Flyers have, all the forwards are due to have a productive season. Patrick will have a breakout season in the sense that he will prove his one-year contract as “worth the investment” and likely receive an extension (perhaps even a slot on Philadelphia’s protection list before the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.) My pick is Patrick, but another good one to place a bet on is Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
MS: I would love to say Nolan Patrick is going to have a breakout year, but my money is on Joel Farabee. In his second season, he has a little more understanding of what it takes to play in the NHL. Starting off on a line with G and Hayes can really get him going. Look for Farabee to have a really good year.
LJ: I think Morgan Frost could be a really underrated play here. If Nolan Patrick needs to miss time at any point for his migraine condition, Frost will be the guy they call up. He’s also shown an intent to play on the wing and could well be challenging for the fourth-line center role as the season goes on. I think he does get significant ice time and ends up surprising a lot of people.
What will the Flyers record be at the end of the season?
AM: This is a tough call. Playing only divisional games all season long can really go all over the place. However, the depth chart tells me that the Flyers have a little extra added help should things go less than perfect and that’s not something that can be said for the entire division. The Flyers will go far beyond .500 and I don’t believe my colleagues are far off when they predict 30 or more wins. However, as optimistic as I am, I can also be a little pessimistic. I’m going to say the Flyers will go 29-20-7.
RA: Okay, don’t get mad at me here. I think the Flyers start hot, then struggle for a few weeks, then end the season hot heading into the playoffs. Obviously depth is going to be the most important asset to any team with the condensed schedule.
However, the Flyers youth may start to show at one point. This does not mean that they won’t get adjusted. I just think that they’ll hit a reality check at one point of the season.
Looking at their schedule, where they play many teams two times in a row, it’s going to be tough to go on extended winning streaks. Just like they say in the NFL- it’s tough to beat the same team two times in one season, it just doesn’t happen that often. I can see the Flyers winning two-three, losing one, winning two, losing one, etc. Scratch up 36 wins in the 56 game season, and their 36-12-8 record earns them either the two or three seed in the tough East division.
ER: Last season, the Flyers finished 13-5-2 against their 2020-2021 Division opponents. If they can harness the same success, my calculations show a 36-20 record in 56 games. I’m not going to sort through OT losses or wins, but I imagine Philadelphia will find themselves in a healthy amount of overtime periods and shootouts.
MS: I feel the Flyers are going to have a record of 31-20-5 to win the east.
LJ: The Flyers had their way with divisional opponents last year and have retained most of what made that team so dangerous. Ending with a 34-13-9 record and clinching the division isn’t out of the question.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre