If the Flyers started today…

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.
The line of Scott Hartnell-Danny Briere-Ville Leino shined during the 2010 playoffs. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The line of Scott Hartnell-Danny Briere-Ville Leino shined during the 2010 playoffs. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With the preseason starting in roughly two months, I started imagining what the Philadelphia Flyers may look like in their attempt to return to the Stanley Cup Finals.

With the Flyers’ current roster at this moment, I would picture the lines to look like this:

Daniel Carcillo (LW) – Mike Richards (C) – Jeff Carter (C)
Scott Hartnell (LW) – Danny Briere (C) – Ville Leino (LW)
James van Riemsdyk (LW) – Claude Giroux (RW) – Nikolai Zherdev (RW)
Jody Shelley (LW) – Blair Betts (C) – Ian Laperriere (RW)

Chris Pronger (L) – Matt Carle (L)
Kimmo Timonen (L) – Braydon Coburn (L)
Andrej Meszaros (L) – Sean O’Donnell (L)

Michael Leighton (G)
Brian Boucher (G)

Average Age: 28.7
Scratches or sent down to Phantoms: Riley Cote (LW), Oskars Bartulis (L), Johan Backlund (G)

It’s hard for me to imagine Carcillo playing on the top line again, but where else to put him? Drawing a blank? Exactly. He played with Giroux at one point last season, but no chemistry was formed and neither player benefited. It would be best to leave Carcillo with Richards since Richards is a player that has the ability to make others better around him. Not that it means anything, but it is funny to note that all three players on the top line will be 25 during the first half of the season.

For the second line, I really have no heart in breaking up the incredible line from the playoffs. All three just seemed to make each other better, and Briere was playing like a person Flyers fans expected when they signed him during the summer of 2007. A whole season playing on this line and at center could do wonders for Briere. Hartnell will hopefully bounce back from a dismal regular season. Leino should be able to continue the success he’s had on the Flyers since coming over from the Detroit Red Wings.

The third line excites me the most. You have a young, talented player in-the-making with van Riemsdyk, a player on the cusp of stardom in Giroux, and a player with the potential to be an offensive threat in Zherdev. This line has the real possibility to become dangerous to opposing teams. As much as I would like to see Giroux move up to the top two lines, I feel he plays a lot better as a center. It allows him to create a lot more and use his skills and vision better than if he was on the wing.

The fourth line is full of heart and grit. Betts is one of the best faceoff guys on the team. He had the second best percentage (50.9) out of players who took 100 or more faceoffs (Carter was first with 52.4). When I talk about heart, the first name that always comes to my mind is Laperriere. I will always remember when Flyers fans brought him to tears when they gave him a standing ovation during the first home playoff game after he sacrificed his face to block a shot. There is no doubt in my mind that he will continue his fearless play and tough-as-nails attitude. Shelley is another tough guy added to the mix. He is able to drop the gloves alongside Laperriere. He also adds a veteran presence to a young offensive lineup. If you’re wondering, this is the only line that has a player over 30. In fact, all three players are in their 30s.

Once again, all the defensemen on the roster shoot left. I would have liked to have seen the Flyers pick up a right-handed shot, but not much to do about it now. The top two pairings will still the same. The “Pronger effect” did wonders for Carle’s game. He posted his second highest points total in his career, and best as a Flyer. Pronger will continue being Pronger. He should have no problem contributing some offense will continuing to clear the front of the net with his brute force and size. Coburn found his game once again during the playoffs and will hopefully continue his play from the start of the season. Timonen has always been one of the most under-appreciated players on the team. He defends well and has a great ability to shut down top offensive players night after night. Meszaros and O’Donnell are great additions to bolster up the third pairing and make them more reliable than last year’s pair. This will also alleviate some pressure off of Pronger and Timonen so that they won’t have to put up as much ice time as they did. O’Donnell also adds another player onto the roster who has won the Cup.

Now the big rift in Flyers country comes at the position of goaltender. Some are happy with the return of the Leighton-Boucher tandem that took them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Others say it was a fluke or neither will be able to survive a whole season as starter. Personally, I do wish we had signed a true, tested No. 1 goalie, but Paul Holmgren bolstered the defense in front of the net to try and take away as much traffic and pressure off of the goalies as possible.

There is still one thing I would change. If Darroll Powe re-signs with the team, I would change the lines a bit to look like this:

Richards-Carter-Zherdev
Hartnell-Briere-Leino
van Riemsdyk-Giroux-Powe
Shelley/Carcillo-Betts-Laperriere

Obviously someone will have to give for Powe to get a spot. I would imagine it would be one of the “tough guys.” Shelley or Carcillo would be the one out of the lineup. I think Powe would work best on line with Giroux. He’s a very speedy player who is not afraid to get into the dirty areas. This would also mean Zherdev is bumped up to the top line. I switched Carter to center. I was disappointed in his play on the wing, so a move to the center might bring his goal-scoring back. Plus he also had a better faceoff percentage than Richards.

Now time for the power play and penalty kill units. First up, the power play:

Richards-Carter-Zherdev
Pronger-Timonen

Hartnell-Briere-Giroux
Coburn-Carle

And the penalty kill:

Betts-Laperriere
Pronger-Timonen

Richards-Powe
Coburn-Carle

Now you have seen how I picture this upcoming season to look like. Feel free to discuss or share how you envision the lines. Remember, only 80 days until the regular season begins!

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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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