Better With Popcorn

Flyers depth will make them a dangerous team in the playoffs

Consistency is typically an attribute that most people hope to have.

No matter the subject matter, to be consistent is usually viewed as a positive. That is of course unless you are being consistently, inconsistent.

For the Philadelphia Flyers, the one constant for their team this season has been just that.

However, not in the way that it sounds.

While the team has struggled at times to put together complete efforts, their biggest consistency problems are not in reference to their performance, but rather to their lineup.

Injuries have proven to ravage the team’s already depleted roster, leaving them with a new combination of players almost every other week.

Sometimes, it’s every other game.

With 82 games in the regular season, almost every team in the NHL needs to battle the injury bug at some point in time.

The Flyers on the other hand have had to deal with it all season.

For many other teams, the injuries may have caused the season to go down the tubes, but for the Flyers the injuries have largely failed to have any effect.

In fact, for some players the injuries have allowed them to crack a lineup that they may have never had a chance to play in.

"Obviously we are a young team and when guys go down another one is going to step up,” Claude Giroux said. “That has been our story this year.”

It’s something that isn’t talked about enough when discussing the Philadelphia Flyers.

While their roster juggling and injuries tend to draw the most attention as negatives, there is an underlying positive to the unfortunate situation.

The Flyers are proving to be an incredibly deep team.

While the team’s depth ranges from the acquisition of Max Talbot and Wayne Simmonds through offseason moves and Niklas Grossmann and Pavel Kubina from the trade deadline, the team’s rookies have played a huge role in the success.

When Brandon Manning dressed for Thursday night’s dominating 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers, he became the 12th rookie to make his NHL debut with the Flyers this season.

“I’ve never been in a situation where there have been this many rookies available every game,” head coach Peter Laviolette said on Thursday night. “There’s lots of reasons why a team has success, but certainly they are a contributing factor.” 

While killing off a Claude Giroux slashing penalty in the first period of Thursday’s game, three of the four penalty killing forwards were rookies.

The fact that the organization and Laviolette have that much confidence in them is a testament to how talented they truly are.

“Where we’re at right now, they’ve all been given roles and what we expect of them,” Laviolette said when talking about the rookies. “They’ve done a really nice job.”

Of course there are plenty of players who have NHL experience that are contributing to the Flyers efforts as well. Simmonds, Scott Hartnell and Talbot have all greatly overachieved with their scoring production and have proven to be leaders for the younger players on the team.

Grossmann and Kubina have balanced out the defense corps, which has allowed injuries to Andrej Meszaros and Kimmo Timonen to have little effect.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to the team who is stepping up as long as somebody is doing it.

“Rookies or 15-20 year veterans like Jagr, we all got to step up and play hard,” Hartnell said. “For us to be successful down the stretch in the playoffs we've got to have everyone going, and that's the biggest thing right now. Everyone's pulling on the rope and it's exciting.”

In terms of the stretch run, the team’s depth will make them a difficult opponent.

While the injuries have been frustrating at times, they have also shown that the minor league system has plenty of players ready to play at the NHL level.

If the Flyers face injury problems once the playoffs come around, they know they have talent that can step in and do the job.

It’s something that will make the Flyers an extremely dangerous opponent in the second season.


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