The Philadelphia Flyers will open the 2009-2010 NHL season tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals. We, Flyer fans, are all ready for some hockey. Make that physical hockey. This is a team that can intimidate their opponents with their size and physicality, not to mention their many goal-scorers.
The team you see on the ice tomorrow night will have a different look to it this year. First, the Flyers newest defenseman, Chris Pronger, will debut for his new team. Pronger has consistently been one of the best defensemen in the league. That is why the Flyers traded promising young players for him and then signed the 34-year old to a 7-year deal.
I think Pronger will bring a real physical presence to the ice, kind of like Derian Hatcher was a couple of years ago. The difference between Hatcher and Pronger is that Pronger is a major threat to score on the power play from the blue line. He has one of the hardest shots in the league.
The other major difference between this year's team and last year's team has to due with the goalies. The Flyers got rid of Martin Biron and Antero Nittymaki. Instead, they signed Ray Emery, who hasn't been in the NHL since the 2007-2008 season. He looked good playing in Europe, but the Flyers are still taking a major risk by making him their #1 goaltender.
I think this team will be very good. The Atlantic division is very talented, so the Flyers will many tough games. Still I believe that the Flyers will make the playoffs and finish in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. ESPN Magazine and Sports Illustrated both project the Flyers to finish 4th in the Eastern Conference.
So, enough with the talk. Let's get to the games. Games aren't played on paper and the Flyers certainly know that. Our first impression of this team will come tomorrow night.