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September 10, 2015

What they’re saying: Defense will hold Flyers back in 2015-16?

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Hockey season is drawing closer and closer, as the Flyers’ opener in Tampa is less than a month away. We’ll be at rookie camp and regular ol’ training camp in Voorhees, which both kick off next week. Even notable members of the media are Flyered up!

Puck Daddy has always been a main source for hockey content both informative and whimsical, and they are already rolling out season preview stuff over there. First, for the predictions: Greg Wyshynski picked the Flyers to finish sixth in a strong Metropolitan Divison that would send five teams to the playoffs.

On the writing side of things, Josh Cooper thinks the defense is what will ultimately hold the Flyers back. No real surprise there:

The defense is simply just not very good. Even if the Flyers had Dominik Hasek in his prime, there’s no way they could get away with a top pair of Streit and Andrew MacDonald. Hextall didn’t help the team’s blueline all that much this summer – re-signing Del Zotto doesn’t count.

Earlier in the year, owner Ed Snider complained about the team’s lack of other scoring options. Forget that. The Flyers need an improved defense before secondary scoring.

It has been well documented here and other places that the Flyers should have a bunch of credible reinforcements on the blueline in the next few years. For now, they are trying to create a bridge to the young defensemen with shorter contracts. Puck Daddy believes this is why they will miss out on the playoffs:

Giroux and Voracek will get their points. Philadelphia’s secondary scoring will improve with Schenn and Sean Couturier becoming more valuable contributors. Hakstol will have some growing pains, but ultimately will find the right message by the end of the season. Philly’s D will again be its downfall. It’s just not very good. The Flyers will finish about five points outside the Wild Card.

Other Flyers news, notes and analysis from around the web:

Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25: Ivan Provorov tops the Flyers' prospects at No. 3: Travis Hughes, Broad Street Hockey

Really enjoyed this whole countdown at BSH. Considering Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn went 1-2 and you already know a lot about them, I decided to link to the Provorov entry:

Sanheim's offensive breakout in 2014-15 is a big reason why we think he's so damn capable of playing in the NHL in the very near future. Provorov's 2014-15 was better than Sanheim's. So, you know. On top of that, Provorov has a great shot, great speed, and has proven to be one of the better players in junior hockey -- whether that's at the World Juniors or in the WHL -- at such a young age.

Flyers' Giroux talks new coach, World Cup, Briere: Tim Wharnsby,

Here is what the captain said about when he first heard the news of who would be coaching him this season:

"I had no idea who he was. So right away I had to do some searching on the Internet. I talked with [general manager] Ron Hextall about him. Then [Hakstol] came to Ottawa to meet with me.

"After I met him I was really excited and pumped to get the season started because of the way he sees the game and how humble he is. Most coaches would come into the NHL and say they know it all. But he told me that, "I’m going to learn, too, and that we going to be in this together." He wants this to be a team with everybody working together and on the same page. That's what you want."

Apparently Hakstol also wanted Giroux to up his wardrobe:

The Metropolitan Division's Top 10 Goalies: 2015-16: Japers’ Rink

Michael Neuvirth comes in at the ninth spot (highest-rated backup), while Steve Mason checks in at fifth:

The Flyers have seemingly been looking for The Guy in net since Ron Hextall hung up the pads, and there were no shortage of raised eyebrows when that search resulted in Steve Mason's arrival in Philly back in 2013. A little over two seasons later, that move doesn't look so crazy - all Mason's done since joining the Flyers is put up career numbers (behind somewhat lackluster teams), averaging a .923 save percentage over that span. Last season, his .928 save percentage trailed only Vezina-winner Carey Price and Vezina-finalist Devan Dubnyk, with an even-strength save percentage checking in at .940 (also third-best, behind Price and Ottawa's Andrew Hammond). For now, it seems the only question in net for the Flyers is whether Mason can stay healthy enough to get them back to the postseason.

Buying the Pittsburgh Penguins

And finally, a funny GoFundMe idea for a good cause.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann