Last season there were a lot of variables that led to the Flyers 23-22-3 record and their first playoff absence since 2007 - limited training camp, shortened season, injuries. You name it - the Flyers had to deal with it.
This year? All of those excuses are out the window. The team had a full training camp under Peter Laviolette. They have a full 82-game schedule this year. They know that injuries can derail a team so they should have the necessary depth behind the starters who can step in and play.
Captain Claude Giroux, 25, is coming off a decent season in which he netted 13 goals and dished out 35 assists for 48 points in 48 games. He is two years removed from his dominant 28 goal, 65 assist, 93 point season in 2011-12 when he also added eight goals and nine assists in 10 playoff games. He was rewarded this off-season with a new eight-year, $66.2 million deal that will keep him with the orange and black through 2022. He needs to step his game up to the next level.
Giroux's linemate Jake Voracek, 24, scored a career-high 22 times and dished out 24 assists for a staggering 46 points in 48 games. In a full 82 game slate, those totals would have been 38 goals, 41 assists, 79 point season had he kept the same pace. Voracek has the size (6’2”, 214 lbs.), ability (46 points in 48 games), and support (c’mon, he plays with Giroux!) to be an impact player in the NHL, if he can replicate his fantastic lockout-shortened season.
In 47 games with the Flyers last year, Brayden Schenn netted eight goals and dished out 18 assists for 26 points. He also appeared in 33 games for the Adirondack Phantoms during the lockout and led them in points with 33 (13 goals, 20 assists). Schenn’s production last season took a major step forward from a points-per-game standpoint. He averaged .33 points per game in 54 games as a 20 year old rookie in 2011-12 but jumped up to .55 points per game in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. If he wants a contract extension, the 22 year-old must continue his development.
Matt Read signed a four-year, $14.5 million contract extension. He will carry a $3.625 million cap hit after this season. As a rookie in 2011-12, he had a breakout performance as he led all rookies with 24 goals and also added 21 assists. Obviously his numbers dropped in 2013 with the lockout-shortened season but he still managed 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 42 games. Some believe he returned too soon from torn muscles in his ribcage. He needs to prove the Flyers made the right choice by re-signing him.
There are plenty of players that weren't mentioned that need to have big seasons this year too (Sean Couturier, Scott Hartnell, and Steve Mason - just to name a few). There are no excuses this year for the Flyers. It is put up or shut up.
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