Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Everyone Knew It Wouldn't Last

The 2006-2007 Flyers were a disaster. Injuries decimated the roster and the team had to rely on an unprecedented number of rookies in a dreadful campaign that netted only 22 wins in 82 games. Combined with 12 overtime or shootout losses last years Flyers accumulated a mere 56 points - 11 points less than the Phoenix Coyotes, the second worst team. The Flyers organization did not envision it's 40th year of operation quite like that.

The 2007-2008 season couldn't get here soon enough for a franchise that is used to playing in meaningful games well after the trading deadline and, more often than not, deep into April. Some nifty offseason trades and acquisitions brought hope to the Philadelphia hockey scene. The team got off to a fast start and then cooled off a bit. The Atlantic Division is arguably the most competitive division in hockey with the young and flashy Penguins, the ruthless Devils, and the veteran-laden Rangers and Islanders. Each teams play has fluctuated during the season so far and no team has commandeered a commanding lead in the division. As it stands now, Pittsburgh has a slim lead (58 points in 48 games played) but New Jersey (57 in 47) and Philadelphia (57 in 46) are right behind...and they play tonight at the Wachovia Center. The Islanders (52 in 48) and Rangers (50 in 49) are still in the hunt. The Penguins suffered a huge blow on Friday when superstar Sidney Crosby was lost for 6-8 weeks with a high ankle sprain, the same injury starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been dealing with since early December.

You probably didn't pay much attention to the Flyers point total other than it was one behind Pittsburgh and tied with New Jersey. That point total after 46 games is 57. In 82 games last year the Flyers got to 56. The Flyers season point total would extrapolate to around 94-98, quite possibly a 40 point improvement. It is safe to say that last year was not the sign of things to come. And the NHL knew that. The Flyers are back.

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