The Young and the Restless: Broad Street Edition

Bryan Wislosky

The future looks bright in South Philly, not only as we look ahead to the Stanley Cup Finals coming up in June, but for many, many seasons.  Even with the Philadelphia Flyers playing musical goaltenders and having obvious holes in their defensive core thanks to Chris Pronger’s season ending injury and Braydon Coburn being awful, the Broad Street Bullies remain strong contenders to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup this summer.

The Flyers are currently in a heated battle with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins for the best record not only in the Eastern Conference, but the entire National Hockey League.  We have reached the NHL’s All-Star weekend with Philadelphia having 63 points through 48 games, close behind the division and conference leading Rangers who have 66 points through 47 games.

The Fly Guys are also looking up at the defending champion Bruins, who have 64 points through 47 games.

The key to the Flyers success this season has been the amazing contribution given by their youth.  With youngsters such as Sean Couturier (19), Matt Read (25), Claude Giroux (24), James van Riemsdyk (22), Wayne Simmonds (23) and Sergei Bobrovsky (23) combining with the wily veterans Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere, the Philadelphia Flyers will be a forced to be reckoned with in the NHL for the next decade and beyond.

Just short of 50 games played for the season, the Flyers lead the NHL in points scored by rookies.  Philly rookies have already piled up more than 70 points on the year.

The two most abundant first year scorers are Matt Read, who after spending last season with the Phantoms after being drafted by the Flyers leads the NHL in goals by a rookie with 15 and is third in points by a rookie with 31, and Sean Couturier, taken eighth overall in last June’s entry draft, who is making an immediate impact with his 10 goals and 9 helpers at just 19 years of age.

Of the non-rookies who are making great impacts, we have who I believe is the future of the NHL, Claude Giroux.  The future captain is second in the NHL with 55 points, and makes everyone around him better.  His line mate, Scott Hartnell, currently has 25 goals with 34 games remaining, where his career high for goals in a season is 30.

Now Giroux is in a bit of a goal drought, but lately teams have been double teaming him, which has let his teammates pile up the goals.

Another great contributor is third year player Wayne Simmonds with his 13 goals and 14 assists.  Simmonds was a great pick-up in the off season when former captain Mike Richards and current coach Peter Laviolette couldn’t see eye to eye and Richards was shipped to the LA Kings for Wayne and draft picks.

The Flyers  have nine players with at least 10 goals on the season, which no other team in the league can say.  They can score any time on any line, which is a great luxury.  Of these nine players, seven of them are under the age of 30, the exceptions being Briere and Jaromir Jagr.

Philly is the only team in the entire NHL that can match Boston’s explosiveness, and when it appeared free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgolav may be a bust, Bob stepped up with his admirable 2.42 goals against average, now Bryz seems to be coming into his own as well.  The Bullies just need to keep this core group of youngsters together — and healthy — and within five years, we’ll be talking dynasty.