One of the highlights derived from HBO's 24/7 series is a line from Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. When he was asked about the team's offseason overhaul, he admitted that he didn't know whether the Flyers would be good or bad, just different.
Well, as the midpoint in the 2011-12 campaign approaches, overall the Flyers have been good. The orange and black are among the best Eastern Conference teams. They're neck and neck with tough divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.
What's been surprising is how the Flyers have held their own. They've done it with a high-octane offense, which is among the leaders in the NHL in production.
When Holmgren traded away leading scorer Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards, who is very good at finding the back of the net, there were questions about who would pick up the slack.
Well, MVP candidate Claude Giroux, who barring injury. could hit the century mark in points this season, has been a revelation.
"I just have a lot of fun every time I hit the ice," Giroux said. "It helps being on a team like this. We have a lot of talented guys, many of them are young guys."
The infusion of youth has been a huge boon for the Flyers. Matt Read has come out of nowhere to supply considerable offensive punch. The unheralded rookie free agent has the third most goals on the team with 12, which is more than vaunted striker Danny Briere.
Celebrated rookie Sean Couturier has displayed jaw-dropping skill and will develop as he fills out. The 18-year old appears to have a very bright future for a team currently 24-12-4 with 52 points. Second-place Philly trails the Rangers, who have 56 points and won the recent 'Winter Classic' over the Flyers.
Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Kevin Marshall, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Harry Zolnierczyk are young and have made considerable contributions. And let's not forget winger James van Reimsdyk, who is just 22.
"We have a great core of players," van Riemsdyk said. "So many of the guys are young but we can play hockey. We play well together. And I think since so many guys are new to this team, we're only going to play better together as we get to know each other better."
There are some notable elder statesman in orange and black. Jaromir Jagr is 39 but is in ridiculous shape. The future Hall-Of-Famer has helped the team on and off the ice.
"He is a tremendous player," van Riemsdyk said. "He has incredible skills. He's one of the best to ever play the game and he's fun here (the locker room) . He keeps us loose."
Jagr has a quick wit, perhaps second to only All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger, who is out for the season. If the Flyers believe they need to shore up their defense as the playoffs approach, the certainly have a lot of young talent to deal, if they decide to go that route.
Whatever the Flyers choose to do or not do, they should be in good shape, particularly if goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov picks it up. The veteran netminder has been shaky of late and the Flyers have given up many more goals they anyone imagined.
"I have to play better," Bryzgalov said. "I want to play up to the level that this team has been playing. I need to do that."
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