I love the Flyers, and no other team. I want us to win a Cup, and there is no other team that I accept as an alternative. There are 29 other fanbases that feel the same way about their own club. We all have one goal, and we all have an effect on one another. Since our Fansided Network is doing a 30 day preview to get ready for the 2011-12 season, I’ll be looking at how much of a threat each team is to our own Cup hopes. Today, we have the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, and Chicago Blackhawks.
The Flames were a wreck last year. Despite Jarome Iginla having another fine season, they missed the playoffs for the second straight year. They made a handful of roster moves, ditching older, more expensive players and bringing in a few cheaper replacements. They weren’t involved in any big name moves that would really shake them up. But they only missed the playoffs by 3 points, so they’re not looking for a vast overhaul to get to the postseason. But this team only needed a littlbe bit of star power en route to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals. With Mikka Kiprusoff in net, they always have a chance to compete. It would help if some of their youth stepped up and helped out on offense a bit.
The Flyers barely ever play the Flames, so there’s no rivalry to speak of. They’ll meet only once this season, in Calgary, on February 25th. Iginla is my favorite non-Flyer in the league, so I’ll have to stay up late to catch this 10:00 tilt. I expect the game to be a close one, since I don’t think either team will be a particularly dominant one. We have a few more stars, so if things come together than we could dominate a bit. Of course, there are a lot of games between now and then, and plenty of surprises. So we’ll judge this game as it gets a bit closer.
The ‘Canes, on the other hand, are bit more of relevance to us. We play them 4 times, with the first three games pretty close together (October 29, November 14 and 21) and the last one on January10. They have budding star Jeff Skinner. Eric Staal is still one of the leagues best players. After that, there’s a bit of a drop off in talent. Erik Cole is gone, traded to the Montreal Canadiens. Cam Ward is solid in net, and now they have Brian Boucher (Booooooosh) to back him up. This team barely missed the cut for the playoffs, falling 2 points short. They have enough to compete, especially in what’s usually the weakest division in hockey.
For years, we whipped the ‘Canes. It was a way to make sure everything was working out well. This year, I hope that trend continues. What’s going to make this season series so much fun is the fact that those first three games are so close together. And familiarity breeds contempt. That means if someone does something to piss the other team off, there won’t be much of a wait for some payback. It doesn’t mean there’s going to be a brawl, but a few fights could be on the menu. Regardless of how physical the games are, if we’re not putting Carolina away consistently, you know we’re in some trouble.
Chicago was under the same cap crunch as last summer, thus they didn’t need as many changes. They dumped Brain Campbell off in Florida, giving themselves some breathing room. They still have their core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa. After that, they still have a ton of depth, worthy of making them a serious Cup contender once again. Even though they lost prominent role players heading into last season, I still feel like that was a major reason for the team taking a big step back. It took them a while to get everyone one the same page. But once they did, they almost completed a 3-0 comeback in the first round against Vancouver in the 2011 playoffs.
This season, the Flyers will host them on January 5th. The game doesn’t mean as much as last year, when we wanted a bit of revenge after losing the Cup to them. That, along with the loss of a few of our key players makes this rivalry a bit a bit less intriguing. Instead, there will be new story lines heading into this game. We’ll see if the Blackhawks have regained form and once again joined the elite teams in the West. And if so, we’ll see how the Flyers can match up against a team like that. Dan Carcillo is on their side now, so we’ll see how far he takes thins against his old club. Should be a fun game.
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Tags: 2011 Playoffs 2011-12 Nhl Season 2011-12 Season Brian Boucher Brian Campbell Calgary Flames Cam Ward Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Dan Carcillo Duncan Keith Eric Staal Erik Cole Florida Panthers Ice Hockey Jarome Iginla Jeff Skinner Jonathan Toews Marian Hossa Mikka Kiprusoff Montreal Canadiens NHL Patrick Kane Patrick Sharp Philadelphia Flyers Preview Previews Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Finals Vancouver Canucks