PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Philadelphia Flyers head into the All-Star break holding their own despite a rash of injuries that would make most teams fall into a major slump. Oddly enough the Flyers are not only four points behind Detroit for the league’s best record but are on pace to beat last season’s 106 point total. The scary part is the Flyers are doing it with some unexpected help these days.
Anyone who has followed the Flyers over the past few years knows that the team does not usually rely upon young players, unless it is in the case of injuries. Oh how things have changed. The Flyers league the league in points by rookies with 71 (34 goals) led by Matt Read’s 15 goals and 16 assists, good for third best among rookies, four points behind the Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sean Couturier’s is ninth in points with 10 goals and 9 assists. After a brief rash of injuries early in the season Brayden Schenn is starting to crank things up and has 5 points in 12 games and is playing the game with passion and conviction on the ice. The Flyers have also gotten goals from Harry Zolnierczyk (who?) with 3 goals since the Winter Classic.
To tell you just how crazy things have been for the Flyers lately nine out of the 20 players on the ice for Tuesday night’s game against Florida were not one the team last season. In the absence of Chris Pronger the team has also had to rely upon Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon. Unless a trade is made, the Flyers might have to continue to rely upon both come playoff time.
Between now and the trade deadline keep the names Shea Weber and Ryan Suter (Nashville), Tim Gleason (Carolina), Andy Sutton (Edmonton), and Sheldon Brookbank. Only Weber and Suter would cost a major player on the Flyers roster so don’t look for either to become a Flyer before the deadline but Suter will be the Flyers major target come free agency, especially with the Pronger situation looking worse by the week.
Eventually the Flyers will start getting some of their players back. If the Playoffs started today the Flyers would play the Penguins. That is a scary thought considering the Pens do not have Sid the Kid in their lineup, but you can bet he will be play come playoff time. A lot will happen between now and April but in the mean time the Flyers will have to rely on their youth movement.