The Philadelphia Flyers enter the ’10’s battling for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, and truly haven’t done much at this point of the season to contend for anything higher at the present. With that being said, the Flyers are currently riding a 4-0-1 road swing that comes to its conclusion Sunday afternoon in Ottawa. A much-improved second half from the Flyers will result in late-April hockey, and if recent games are any indication, that should be the scenario for the Orange and Black come Spring-time. However, as the Flyers embark on 2010, there are a few players in particular for me that should bring certain resolutions with them into the New Year.
Simon Gagne. New Year’s Resolution: A Clean Bill of Health.
- I don’t think it’s any secret that – when healthy – Gagne is one of the best players not only in the Flyers lineup, but in the entire NHL. However, since the years have shifted closer to a new decade, Gagne has been struck with injury after injury. Gagne is still young at 29, but his health record would resemble that of a 35-year-old veteran. Concussion issues, hip pointers, and groin pulls are just some examples of what Gagne has had to deal with in recent years. This season, Gagne had to deal with tears on both sides of his abdomen and missed almost two months of action. As a result, he’s only played in 16 contests this year, but has been impressive in his time on the ice, tallying 12 points (5G,7A). Gagne is one of the main focal points on this Flyers club and the team only benefits with him in the lineup. If Gagne can stay healthy, and maintain the energy he’s been playing with this season, he will be a focal point for the Orange and Black through the second half of the year. Look for Gagne to be playing with a chip on his shoulder due to his non-selection as a member of Team Canada for the Winter Olympic Games.
Jeff Carter. New Year’s Resolution: Re-gaining His Man-hood.
- Jeff Carter scored 46 goals in a career year for the Flyers last season. To repeat such a feat is almost impossible unless your last name is Ovechkin, so I don’t think it’s reasonable to hold Carter to the same expectations. However, it is more than reasonable to expect him to continue the same intensity he displayed last season, and take it to a whole other level this year. So far, that hasn’t happened. Carter isn’t willing to take the body on the fore-check and consistently shies away from physical play during the course of a game. Last year, Carter worked hard to create open space for himself on the ice and he was easily able to unleash his lethal wrist shot and beat opposing goaltenders. This season, Carter has turned in a performance of the flip-opposite variety. Here’s hoping 2010 brings a different Carter on the ice for the Orange and Black. Although I wouldn’t blame anybody for having their doubts after #17’s performance in The Winter Classic.
Claude Giroux. New Year’s Resolution: Actually Living Up to the Void Left By Losses of Lupul and Knuble
- I’m Giroux’s harshest critic, and for good reason. I picked Giroux in my pre-season forwards preview to be the Flyers’ “Player to Shine.” So far, he’s made me look like a moron. I don’t like being made to look like a moron. In the off-season, much was made of the Flyers losing Mike Knuble to free-agency, and losing Joffrey Lupul in the Chris Pronger trade. There was panic across the Philadelphia area as to how this lineup could possibly replace the 52 goal output that Lupul and Knuble put forth in 2008-’09. I didn’t buy into this panic, because I thought that a healthy Danny Briere and a full-season of Claude Giroux would off-set it and even more goals would be had this year. I wasn’t right as far as Giroux’s concerned. The 21-year-old has appeared in 40 games this year, only finding the back of the net 8 times in the process. He’s put forth 26 points total, which isn’t bad, but his goal production needs to be way better. As the Flyers are now one game away from the official “half-way point” of the season, Giroux still has time to turn his season around. Now that a new year has arrived on the calendar, his resolution should be nothing less.