October 05, 2017
The Flyers haven’t made the playoffs three of the last five years. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2012. Like it is with three of the four major pro teams in this city, the Flyers are a team under construction, taking a nebulous step this season with a very young team that will hopefully turn into something tangible moving forward.
Jeremy Roenick played for the Flyers for three years. He knows the passion the city has for the team, and the venom that can surface when the Flyers don’t make the playoffs, like last year. Now a TV analyst, Roenick speaks to many NHL insiders and has an idea of how the league views the Flyers.
With the Flyers beginning their 2017-18 season Wednesday night in San Jose – they beat the Sharks, 5-3, thanks to a Wayne Simmonds hat trick – it's fair to wonder, where are they headed?
“It’s a great question mark when you haven’t been in the playoffs very much in the last few years. The Flyers have been teetering on just making the playoffs,” said Roenick, who will be a celebrity golfer at the Third Annual Diamond Resorts Invitational™ Benefiting Florida Hospital for Children from for Jan. 12-14 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando (more info below). “That’s always a tough battle you have to overcome. For fans, it’s frustrating, especially, too, for general managers and coaches. You look at the Flyers team and it isn’t too much different from last year, with the exception of their goaltending, which in my opinion is their biggest need of stability.
“Until that stability is appeased, it’s always going to be a question of whether or not they have enough to make the playoffs. Then you have the questions: How is Claude Giroux going to perform this year? Is Shayne Gostisbehere going to get back to how he was his rookie year? Is Jake Voracek going to play consistently? The most consistent guy on that team is Wayne Simmonds and he needs more help. Will Nolan Patrick be worth the second pick, or will he turn out to be a dud? I don’t know. That’s a big question. Will he stay healthy? Is he too slow?
“Until we see these things happen, when some of these young guys step up, we won’t know about this team. Will Travis Konecny take the next step?”
Roenick likes the move of Giroux from center to wing, where he’ll be teamed on the first line with center Sean Couturier and Voracek.
“It takes a little responsibility away from him, which is good for Claude. He needs to simplify his game,” Roenick said. “Sometimes he gets too much stuff going on in his head and he starts doing too much, instead of just keeping it simple, shooting the puck and going to those high-traffic areas. As a winger, he can go to those high-traffic areas.
All eyes will be on Elliott, it’s why the Flyers went and got him. I think they’re going to give him the opportunity to prove he’s a No. 1.
“Claude’s overall body of work is very good. But whenever you don’t make the playoffs, your top players get the brunt of it. You won’t get a break in Philly if you don’t make the playoffs. Gostisbehere can’t become invisible for weeks at a time. Couturier has a huge job, too, and that’s to become more consistent. There’s a lot of expectations on him, too.”
The key, Roenick stresses, will be Brian Elliott, a 32-year-old goalie that the Flyers signed from Calgary to a two-year deal worth $5.5 million. The Flyers, by the way, are Elliott’s third team in three years. Elliott will team in the net with Michal Neuvirth, who started 24 games for the Flyers last year, posting an 11-11 record with a 3.26 goals-against-average.
“All eyes will be on Elliott, it’s why the Flyers went and got him,” Roenick said. “I think they’re going to give him the opportunity to prove he’s a No. 1.
“A lot of the Flyers season, however, will also be dictated toward the young guys. You’re not going to make the playoffs with just one line contributing. I’m sure Giroux, Simmonds, Couturier and Voracek will produce, but a lot will depend on Patrick and can Konecny put pucks in the net? They need consistency through all four lines. I’m 55-45 against them making the playoffs, but that could change.”
• Boasting an unprecedented format combining PGA TOUR Champions, LPGA and top-tier celebrity players, the third-annual professional golf tournament is set for Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando (FL).
• All three days will be nationally televised on Golf Channel with a combined $1.25 million in prize money at stake and two leaderboards: one for PGA TOUR Champions and LPGA pros ($750,000); and one for the 48 celebrities ($500,000).
• The Diamond Resorts Invitational™ is a 54-hole, modified Stableford point system competition. Groups will include one professional plus two celebrities, playing individually from the same tees all three days.
• Florida Hospital for Children is the charity beneficiary of the tournament week’s live and silent
• Last year’s participants included: John Daly, Colin Montgomerie, Kenny Perry, Ian Woosnam, John Cook, Lee Janzen, Jeff Sluman and Mark Calcavecchia.
• Among the celebrities expected to attend: Josh Donaldson, Justin Verlander, Brian Urlacher, Marcus Allen, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, Jake Owen, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Millar, Richard Dent, Mark Rypien, Danny Kanell, Mike Modano, Blair O’Neal, Jeremy Roenick, Colt Ford, Larry The Cable Guy and Alfonso Ribeiro.
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