The "That's so Metro" preview series we're doing for the new Metropolitan Division was mainly done to get to know some of the newer teams to the fray, and the Philadelphia Flyers definitely are not that. They're the age-old, etched-in-stone, blood rivals of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just as every hero needs that villain, the Pens and the Flyers need each other. It's a love-love-hate relationship and one of the best rivalries going in the NHL.
So in order to know thy enemy, we're happy to have Travis Hughes, overlord of SBN Hockey and the Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey here with us to answer the questions about how Philly's always active off-season has them set up for this new season.
#1 - Give a 4-sentence preview of your 2013-14 team.
Mediocre was the easiest way to describe the Flyers last year, but with the Ilya Bryzgalov distraction out of the way and with the injury bug hopefully behind them, they're ready to get back on the road to playoff contention. They replaced Danny Briere with Vincent Lecavalier (upgrade!) and they probably have one of the deepest groups of forwards in the NHL. On defense, they could wind up overworking some guys, but the pieces are in place for a formidable top four. The goaltending is anybody's guess, but even if Ray Emery and/or Steve Mason perform to their career averages, it'll be better than last year.
#2 - What is your team's biggest addition and why?
It's a tough question. The no-brainer answer is Vincent Lecavalier, but a bigger addition has to be Mark Streit. He's pretty much exactly what the team needed on defense and will take a lot of load off of Kimmo Timonen and others.
#3 - What is your team's biggest loss from last season?
Briere's the obvious answer here, but they replaced him quite well. They really haven't lost much. The bigger concern to me is whether or not some guys will take a step back. Will Jakub Voracek grow or stagnate? If he takes a step back, that's a pretty big loss itself.
#4 - Which player on your team do you see being a pleasant surprise?
I think Hartnell has a bounce back year offensively, and that would be a great surprise.
#5 - What's your biggest worry regarding your team as this season begins?
Goaltending and the health of the defense, as usual.
#6 - If you had to predict a finishing position (1st through 8th) in the division for your team today for 2013-14, which place would it be?
Third, behind Pittsburgh and the Rangers. The Devils suck, and the Blue Jackets and Islanders were flashes in the pan (at least to a certain extent) last year. The Hurricanes are a mystery and the Capitals will finish fourth.
#7 - Which player will you revere less after the season is over - Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin?
lol what do you think
#8 - Give me one player in the division (who's not on your team) that you think is poised for a big-time year.
Mikhail Grabovski. George McPhee tried to have a boring, dull summer and instead one of the best signings of the offseason just fell into his lap.
#9 - As a division rival there's naturally a lot of tension and animosity when the competitive portion of the season begins...So before that, I challenge you to pay a compliment to the Penguins, Sidney Crosby, city of Pittsburgh, its residents, anything you'd like.
I've been really drunk in Pittsburgh several times and it was fun every time. Consol Energy Center is nice too.
#10 - If you had to guess, what is a potential division name that was left on the drawing board before the geniuses in the NHL picked 'Metropolitan' as the best idea?
IT'S THE ATLANTIC DIVISION, DAMNIT. Seriously, call the other one the Great Lakes or the Northern or the ANYTHING but Atlantic. That's ours. Whatever.
Thanks Travis for helping out with this, I'm sure we are ALL looking forward to a Ray Emery + Steve Mason combination all season long.