Philadelphia Flyers Defense Gets Boost from Healthy Players

By Andrew Fitzgerald
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers 2012-13 season was dictated by inefficient goaltending, a streaky offense and terrible defense, compounded by injuries. If the team managed to remain healthy, it’s likely the Flyers would have had a chance at making the playoffs, rather than ending their season with a 23-22-3 record. On Sept. 3, the Flyers received good defensive news for the first time in a while, when Paul Holmgren revealed that Braydon Coburn, Nick Grossman and Andrej Meszaros were cleared to play.

Coburn has been recovering from surgery for a separated shoulder since March, while Grossman missed 18 games due to a concussion. Meszaros has been the Flyers most injury-plagued defenseman as of late, as he suffers from a reoccuring shoulder injury, one that has put his future with the Flyers in question.

The return of Coburn and Grossman should come as welcome news. Despite his mistakes last season, Coburn plays a solid defensive game when healthy. He’s equipped with a booming slap-shot, and he’s demonstrated his defensive abilities and endurance throughout his stretch in Philadelphia. Through six whole seasons with the Flyers, Coburn has missed just 23 games, 15 of which came from last season.

Grossman is not a top-tier defenseman, but he’s a workhorse. He isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body to block a shot or stop a play, and his aggressive play-style had a hand in his previous concussion.

Meszaros remains the unanswered question for the Flyers. There’s been speculation that he will be traded before the season begins, and Holmgren is surely fielding offers, as he frequently does  Meszaros will be earning $4 million if he remains with the Flyers, a hefty price for a defenseman plagued by injuries.

With all three defensemen cleared to play, it’ll be interesting to see what unfolds throughout the coming days and weeks, as the Flyers finalize their roster for the 2013-14 season.

Andrew Fitzgerald is a Philadelphia Flyers writer for Follow him on Twitter @awfitz. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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