NHL Projections: Philadelphia Flyers Lineup
The Philadelphia Flyers were on the outside looking in for much of last season, but snuck into the playoffs as a wild card team. They surged at the end of the season and took advantage of a late season collapse by Boston. I think Philly will be a borderline playoff team once again this season. It will come down to either the Flyers or the Islanders, and only one will get in. I'm not sure which one it will be, but Philadelphia has a shot. I like the Flyers' forward group, but their goaltending and defense are both question marks. Here is what I expect the Flyers lineup to look like at the start of the year.(Note: Brayden Schenn is suspended the first 3 games of the season, but it's only 3 games so I'm going to include him anyway).
Michael Del Zotto-
The Flyers are in good shape at the forward position. They have a dynamic top 6 that can and will put up a ton of points. They also have a good bottom 6 that is skilled enough to contribute, but gritty enough to play like a bottom 6. I'm not worried about offense from this team at all. Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds can both score 30 goals. Claude Giroux can get 50 assists. And Jakub Voracek can potentially score 30 goals from the second line. The Flyers' third line has some good young players, and will also contribute offensively. The fourth line is where the toughness and grit is at. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde, and Dale Weise are all gritty players. Weise is probably going to have to start fighting again, which he hasn't done since 2014, but being on Philly's fourth line comes with certain expectations. Weise didn't fight much in Montreal, but he did in Vancouver. He needs to go back to that in Philadelphia. Overall, this team is in great shape up front.
The defense in Philadelphia is very interesting. I have not doubt that the Flyers' defense will greatly contribute offensively, but the question is can they keep the puck out of their own net? Radko Gudas is the only defensive defenseman in the lineup. Michael Del Zotto, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, and Shayne Gostisbehere are all offensive defensemen. Ivan Provorov is pretty well rounded, but he's only 19 years old. Whether or not the Flyers can keep the puck out of their net remains to be seen. There is no doubt that the defense will put up a lot of points and be very explosive, but they might not be able to stop anybody either. Philadelphia is not going to win every game 6-5, and it's not like they have an all-star goalie in net. This defense might be very good at scoring and putting up numbers, but they might be very bad at not allowing goals. I understand that this day in age you need puck moving and offensive defenseman, but someone still has to play defense. Having one defensive minded defenseman is not good enough in my opinion. I think the Flyers will give up a ton of goals this season, and it will hurt their chances of making the playoffs.
Finally the goaltending. Goaltending seems to be an issue every year for Philadelphia. It will be an issue again this year. Steve Mason is the starter, and Michal Neuvirth will back him up. Those roles could end up being switched, however, or maybe they'll just split time. Who knows? Steve Mason has not been good enough to prove he's a franchise goalie, but Michal Neuvirth has not been good enough to take the starting job away. Both goalies are very inconsistent, and both goalies are very average. That is not a good thing for the Flyers, or either of the players. The Flyers will get very inconsistent goaltending this year.