New Philadelphia Flyers Filling Important Early Season Spots
Philadelphia Flyers' Bench
Change is a constant in life and is also incessant within the sport of hockey.
With that in mind, the Philadelphia Flyers retooled their roster during the off-season in ways that didn't represent their top choices. After failing to obtain three notable free agents, general manager Paul Holmgren did what he could to bolster Peter Laviolette's orange contingent.
The loss of Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle last summer, via free agency, represented choices. The early season subtractions of Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros were caused by serious injuries. Hopefully, Wayne Simmonds' recent concussion also doesn't lead to him being out of action for a long period of time.
Laviolette's iced puzzle must be solved through use of a thinned roster. The reality of this year's shortened schedule involves a compressed schedule where any faltering team must attempt to quickly rebound.
Momentarily (a hopeful adverb to be sure) stuck near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings during the first week of February is a hardly a preferred position. Depending upon how the next few weeks (or potentially few games) play out, Holmgren could be forced to act once again.
A look at the Flyers' notable additions leaves little doubt that further reinforcements will be needed. As to whether the players from last year's squad, every newly added body or other hockey man who has yet to be added can combine to create a playoff push is questionable at this point.
Last season, 92 points (Washington Capitals) was the lowest point total that earned postseason access. Because 58.5% of the regular season is being played, it's reasonable to speculate that 54 points might be the cutoff point for playoff tickets this year. That means the Flyers will need to earn approximately 48 points during the remainder of their schedule, no matter who is seen wearing their colors on the ice.
Most people didn't expect Tye McGinn to have a significant role on this Philadelphia Flyers' team. But, circumstances created an opportunity for him to play on the top line with Claude Giroux and Danny Briere.
With good speed and a game face that's always on, this tough 22-year-old forward has a chance to keep skating in the National Hockey League this season.
Michael Leighton in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final
Michael Leighton has only played one game since returning to the Philadelphia Flyers' National Hockey League roster. While he's been invisible during the past two seasons, the Ontario native has been Flyers' property since December 2009.
Purely expected to be the team's backup netminder this season, it's always possible that this 2010 Stanley Cup Final goalie could be called into regular action again. The 31-year-old veteran, whose presence on the team is dually reflective of his experience and cap considerations, is competent. However, if he would falter, old friend Brian Boucher is only a waiver-less call-up away in the American Hockey League.
When the Philadelphia Flyers signed Kurtis Foster in mid-January, the front office described his power shot as something that would be useful on the power play.
While this 31-year-old defenseman has only played a total of 388 National Hockey League games since the 2002-03 season, he's actually looked decent in early season action. If used in the right circumstances, he could become a steady offensive contributor during this unusual hockey year.
Mike Knuble is working his way back into playing shape. As his endurance and on-ice minutes increase, it will be apparent whether the 40-year-old still has life left in his stick. The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping that he does, as the loss of a few key forwards has left their offensive game moribund on more than a few occasions.
Luke Schenn and his new Philadelphia Flyers' colleagues
Andrej Meszaros' shoulder injury cut defensive depth, but allowed Schenn to gain increased responsibility behind the blue line. He's averaged nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game, which only ranks behind the totals of fellow defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn.
Schenn's game time demeanor and skill level might allow him to become one of the Flyers' top D-men in the future.