Metropolitan Division 2014-15 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers
COACH: Craig Berube
2013-14 RECORD: 42-30-10, 94 points (third in Metropolitan, lost to Rangers in first round)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.8 goals per game (8th), 2.8 goals-against per game (20th); 19.8 power play pct. (7th); 84.8 penalty kill pct. (7th); Shootout record: 3-8 (28th)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Matt Read — Claude Giroux — Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl — Sean Couturier — Wayne Simmonds
R.J. Umberger — Brayden Schenn — Jason Akeson
Zac Rinaldo — Vincent Lecavalier — Ryan White (injured)
Braydon Coburn — Andrew MacDonald
Nicklas Grossman — Mark Streit
Michael Del Zotto — Luke Schenn
Kimmo Timonen (injured)
OUTLOOK: Craig Berube successfully guided Philadelphia out of a disastrous start last season and into the playoffs, a destination the Flyers should reach this season as well. Forwards Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek provide advantages at both ends of the ice, and the rangy Sean Couturier will provide much-needed depth down the middle and expertise on the penalty kill. The loss of defenseman Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) will surely hurt a back line corps that was already among the league's most porous last season, but this unit led by agitators Braydon Coburn and Luke Schenn packs enough kinetic energy to disrupt opposing teams even if flawless positioning is not its strong suit. Philly hopes the signing of Michael Del Zotto pays off with a return to form by the former Ranger who turned out to be a disappointment during his brief stint with Nashville.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Steve Mason has never truly lived up to the promise he exhibited during his Calder-winning season with Columbus in 2008-09, but he had an effective campaign with Philadelphia as a bona fide No. 1 last season and will look to build on that performance in 2013-14. A team could do much worse than have Ray Emery as Plan B, and so Mason will have plenty of motivation to keep his level of play up as well.
PREDICTION: 97 points (second in Metropolitan)