The final part of this series shifts our focus to the three most important players that can impact the Philadelphia Flyers‘ success this season. These three players played an important part to the success and failure to the 2011-2012 team. One player looks for a bounce back season and the other two look to get even better.
3. Scott Hartnell (LW): Few players get traded to different teams and succeed right away. When the Flyers acquired Hartnell in 2007-2008, they believed that they got a player who could help them immediately as well as in the future. Well, Hartnell has been exactly as advertised. Aside from slipping and sliding over the ice, Hartnell has one of the best shots in the league. The power behind his shots are the reason that he is valuable on the power play. Hartnell played out of his mind last season, recording 67 points and building a close bond with Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux. If Hartnell and the Flyers want to succeed this season, then Hartnell needs to put up the numbers that he did a year ago. 67 points is not out of reach but Hartnell will need to work very hard to succeed.
2. Ilya Bryzgalov (G): The prized sign and trade move for the Flyers a season ago was given his first chance to legitimately make a run at the Stanley Cup last season. Bryzgalov was brought over to secure the goaltender position that had haunted the Flyers for the past decade. Bryzgalov struggled and struggled mightily. His GAA was very mediocre to say the least. Bryzgalov was the star off the ice in HBO’s 24/7 series, but on the ice he looked like a man who was scared to play against the best. The city of Philadelphia got on Bryzgalov quickly. He had a rough time with the media as well as the fans. For a small stretch, Bryzgalov was brilliant in net and many fans thought that he had flipped the switch on just in time. If the Flyers want to get farther than they did a season ago, then most of the load is forced right upon Bryzgalov’s shoulders. If Bryzgalov struggles, then the Flyers are in for a rough year.
1. Claude Giroux (RW): Championship teams and Hall of Fame players usually go hand in hand. Most Hall of Famers have that one break out season in which they show that they have finally arrived and are not stopping until they are the best. Championship teams have players who are able to control a locker room and demand the bets out of their players. Well, Giroux has a chance to do both. Last season was Giroux’s coming out party. The NHL got its first glimpse of Giroux in 2009-2010 when he recorded 21 points in 23 games for the Flyers in their Stanley Cup run. Many who do not follow the Flyers may simply forget that Giroux played well under the pressure in that season. Because of that experience, Giroux was not worried about pressure. He elevated his game to another level and he attributed his success to the mentoring of Jagr. Jagr played a big role in Giroux’s game last season. He has compared Giroux to the great Mario Lemieux. Jagr joked around earlier in the season by calling Giroux “little Mario”. Well, Jagr knows what he is talking about. If last season was any indication of how good Giroux can be, then the Flyers are in store for one of the best seasons ever by a player.
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