Leading into tonight's game against the Flyers, we're going to try something new here at Raw Charge that many other hockey sites on the SB Nation network have been participating in so far this season: we're posing a couple of questions towards our opponent to lead in to the game in question.
Up first is Travis Hughes who leads up Broad Street Hockey, SB Nation's Flyers community. Carolyn Christians sent a few questions regarding the 3-6-0 Flyers to Travis to chime in on. Take a look:
1. At 3-6-0 and 14th in the East, it's no secret that the Flyers have disappointed so far this season. The defense has taken the brunt of the blame, but how much do you attribute to the absence of last year's big power forwards (Jagr, Hartnell, Simmonds now, and at his best, van Riemsdyk) who complemented the Flyers' finesse guys (Giroux, Briere)? While we're still waiting on the prognosis for Simmonds, who will be asked to do the Top-6 dirty work till Hartnell and Simmonds are back in the lineup?
Rookie Tye McGinn is playing a really large role on the top line, and he's doing it well so far. He'll get dirty in front of the net and has some skill too. He's kind of risen through the depth chart quickly this season in the AHL but it's been a great surprise. But there's no doubt about it -- the Flyers are hurting with overall offensive depth. The power vs. finesse balance is off as you mention, but just generally they've lost a ton of depth. Jagr, Simmonds and Hartnell were all extremely productive pieces for the Flyers last season and there's nobody around to replace those goals.
2. Bryzgalov was a key to the Flyers three wins thus far, most recently in Saturday's 39-save performance versus the Hurricanes. He's now played 8 out of 9, with Leighton taking a beating in his only appearance (when the Flyers and Lightning played last week, giving up 5 G on 26 shots.) Do you expect Leighton to get another start at some point, or are they fast-tracking Brian Boucher in Glen Falls? Or do you think Holmgren has a "Plan C" in the pipeline?
I'd expect Leighton to stick around as the backup. He's a serviceable backup -- ran into a rough night in Tampa Bay that night last week, but the Lightning are red hot right now. Certainly wasn't all his fault. Bryzgalov will get a few games off here and there, but it's pretty evident they're riding him. It's only a 48 game season, so I can easily see him getting 40-43 games, and I think that much work is good for him. Doesn't leave much room for Leighton or any other goalie to see much time, barring injury.
3. The Flyers have played 6 out of their 9 games on the road so far this season, and are 2-1 at home (which translates to 1-5 on the road). After this current home stand, they head out for a tough 6-game roadie. What do you need to see from the team over this four-games in front the home crowd (at the end of which they'll have played 25% of the season) to feel like the Flyers' 2013 season is back on track, Laviolette's job is safe, and/or the thought of drafting Seth Jones is no longer the best possible outcome in 2013?
Really tough to say regarding Laviolette's job, because this is the Flyers organization and you never truly know what they're thinking. But over the rest of this homestand, the key is to get the power play on track. They went three-for-three against Carolina on Saturday but they really need to start converting on a consistent basis. They've been a good 5-on-5 team this season and the huge difference has been on special teams. They need to start evening the scales there a bit. Success will follow.