The Opossum-Palooza

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9.12.2006

NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

The ninth part of our thirty part series previewing the looming NHL season is here. Join us as DefDude takes a look at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ah, Philadelphia, the city of endless optimism, where hope abounds at the turn of each season, with beautiful visions of an end to the city’s long-endured championship drought dancing through the mind of every Philadelphian, only to find those dreams irreparably maimed and mangled on the side of the road, hemorrhaging violently from the rape and pillage inflicted by whichever team decided to leave Philadelphia in its wake. Will this be the season that Philadelphia finally breaks through, and the city earns its first major sports championship in over a quarter of a century? If it is, it certainly won’t be the Flyers who deliver.

When goaltending has been a team’s undoing in each and every season of the new millennium, one would think something would be done to address such a situation, with, say, and effort made to bring in a top notch, reliable goaltender, right? Not when your GM is as afraid of marquee goaltenders as Biff is of bees and other such stinging insects. And with the retirement of defensive stalwart Eric Desjardins, the departure of responsible two-way center Michal Handzus, and the continuing health issues faced by captain Keith Primeau, the job that falls to whichever flash in the pan Bob Clarke deems worthy of leading his team to a Stanley Cup run heart-wrenching playoff failure grows exponentially more difficult.

Not all is lost in Philadelphia, however. As I write this, reports indicate that premier winger Simon Gagne just signed a brand spankin' new five-year deal, and the return for Handzus, former Blackhawks winger Kyle Calder, is a dynamic offensive threat. If the ailing Peter Forsberg can stay healthy, the Flyers will have o of the most potent offenses in the NHL this season, assuming of course, that coach Ken Hitchcock can loose up his necktie a little bit (no small feat for a man whose girth is in no way synonymous with the first adjective used in this parenthetical statement) and allow his gifted forwards the freedom to be creative in the offensive zone. If Forsberg stays healthy, and Hitchcocks big guns are allowed to do their thing, the Flyers will be a force in the Eastern Conference, likely winning their division and probably finding their way into the second round of the playoffs, with the conference finals as a distinct possibility. But unless Clarke makes a midseason deal for someone more reliable than Robert Esche or Antero Nittymaki, call an ambulance, because we’re about to see another corpse bullied on Broad Street.

Check out Clarke's Boys for all the Flyers blogging you could ever possibly need.

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