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Flyers Skating on Thin Ice

By: Andrew Grimm 03/07/09

With nineteen games remaining in the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves skating with a big orange and white target on their backs. At 34-19-10 the Flyers are in second place in the Atlantic Division trailing the New Jersey Devils by nine points. When you look at the conference standings however, the 4th place Flyers are only separated from the 10th place Carolina Hurricanes by five points! Today, with the red hot Nashville Predators coming to town having won six straight, the Flyers find themselves at a crossroads. Will they be the hunted or the hunter? Will the young leaders of this storied franchise emerge and lead their squad charging into the playoffs?

We got news yesterday that Danny Briere and his $8,000,000 one season salary will not miss much time after re-aggravating a groin injury. He’s already missed nearly 90% of this season’s games. The Flyers are going to need him and the other veterans like Mike Knuble and Kimmo Timonen to step up and support the young thoroughbreds if this team is going to have a fighter’s chance at reaching the playoffs.

The fans are sitting uneasily at the edge of their seats after upper management failed to secure a marquee player before this past Wednesdays’ trade deadline. Many people are mystified about why we would send a speedy young stud like 25 year old Scottie Upshall to the Coyotes for a 24 year old goon who leads the league in penalty minuets in Daniel Carcillo. Arguments on the management side are that it was a salary cap move or possibly the prequel deal to a bigger move they failed to make. The move only saved them about a half million dollars against the cap but now allows them to keep 21 year old star in the making Claude Giroux without sending him back and forth to the minors. Still it’s tough to swallow that they couldn’t close the deal on Florida’s Jay Boumeester and there will always that question of what if. The Flyers got an up close lesson in what it means when you land a marquee player at the deadline when Calgary came to town on Thursday night. The Flames made a move for Olli Jokinen and he scored two goals in the first period leading a rejuvenated team over the placid Flyers.

As winter subsides and the stench of the blood and sweat of the NHL playoffs approaches, there are many unanswered questions on Broad Street. Will Jeff Carter return to his pre all-star game form? Will Marty Biron refocus and become the stingy net minder that he was during last years’ stretch run? Or will they resort to excuses and dwell on deadline deals that did not get done? Let’s hope not for the latter Flyer fans and instead let’s dream together of hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup and bringing the glory and pride back to the NHL’s toughest franchise.

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