2009 preview: Philadelphia Flyers

When it comes to knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins stranglehold on the Eastern conference playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers have the best chance.

They’re a young team that is maturing quickly. They can play rough and physical hockey. They can get involved in high-scoring affairs. And they now have the dirtiest defenceman in the game in Chris Pronger (which is a good thing).

The Pens had better be careful.

Story of the season:Will this finally be the year that the Flyers have a #1 goalie that can lead them to the Stanley Cup? Despite getting superstar forwards and hard-hitting defenceman, the Flyers have always skimped out when it came to goalies. Instead of signing the best goalie on the market, they would go for the 10th best and hope it would be enough (it wasn’t). Now, they have Ray Emery, a former #1 goalie in Ottawa, and a Stanley Cup finalist. He also has the Ron Hextall mean streak. Don’t be surprised if he drops the gloves a couple of times this season.

Former Habs:Aaron Asham, Jason Ward

Blog to follow: Broadstreet Buzz

TV commercial break:

Pool Picks:Claude Giroux. The 21-year-old had a great start to his career last year, with 27 points in 42 games. If he plays the whole season, he should be able to crack 50 points easily. Stay away from:Braydon Coburn. Sure, he’s a young defenceman, and with offensive upside. But now with Chris Pronger in a Flyers uniform, Coburn’s ice team should be decreasing. Look for Coburn to finish with about 30 points.

Award nominees:Danny Briere for the Masterton trophy.

Expected Finish: Second in the Atlantic, fourth in the conference

Cheerleader: The Flyers have an ice crew (not pictured: the ice)

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