Well, Philly. You’ve been very busy lately. That much is obvious. The Phillies may not have repeated, but there’s certainly plenty of baseball to excited about in 2010.
For now though, it’s time to say farewell to the boys of summer, and welcome back the boys of winter. The warriors of snow and ice have already been to battle 12 times so far. They may be fourth place in the division, but they had far-and-away the hardest opening month schedule in the entire NHL. Even so they’re at 7-4-1 with much easier games ahead.
Rookie James vanRiemsdyk is absolutely on fire and may even have a shot at making the United States Olympic roster. The other likely Olympians for the Flyers, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Chris Pronger, and Kimmo Timonen, are all making big impacts for the team as well.
Claude Giroux has been involved in the game in all zones of the ice but does not have the points yet to show for his effort. He will obviously get going soon.
Though Danny Briere was once again hurt, he is looking hopeful for a return in the near future. It may not be for the two back-to-back games this weekend but definitely by the game after. Ryan Parent re-injured himself, but should be returning soon.
Simon Gagne, on the other hand, won’t be back until mid-late December. It’s possible that he makes his triumphant return to the lineup in time for the Winter Classic after a pair of successful surgeries to fix a couple of small hernias.
Meanwhile, prospect David Laliberte has made a big impact. He joined the team this last weekend and scored a goal in each of his first two games as a Flyer, something that hasn’t been done since Eric Lindros first joined the orange and black in the early 90′s.
Matt Carle is absolutely on fire, clearly aided by having Chris Pronger as his partner, and Braydon Coburn seems to finally be coming around to his former level of play.
Even Ray Emery is proving his worth. His goals-against-average is 7th among active NHL starters at 2.42, and his save percentage is tied for 7th at 0.916%.
The team has a pair of games this weekend starting tomorrow, away at Buffalo, and then Saturday at home against the St. Louis Blues. Then their bizarre schedule gives them another long break before the Senators come to town next Thursday.
Welcome to Winter, Philadelphia. The quest for the Stanley Cup has already started, but the Flyers are glad to have you back.