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Who are Flyers’ Game-Changing Specialists?

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Bobby Brink, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo from Flyers' Twitter feed)
Bobby Brink at Development Camp (Photo from Flyers' Twitter feed).

In the midst of University of Colorado football mania, we noticed some common themes among successful NHL teams.

Some good teams have a shutdown defenseman — kinda like a Deion Sanders on ice skates. Another team will have a sniper … or a power-play specialist. Another team will have players with blazing speed, or puck-moving defensemen. Then, there’s the guy who distracts the goalie on power plays. Or the premier penalty-killer.

And I thought: Do the current Flyers have such players? Do they have players with these specific talents? Specialists that can sometimes win games by themselves, or have a major say in the outcome?

Maybe Travis Konecny is a sniper — he did score a team-high 31 goals, but that was only tied for 46th in the league. Or maybe Joel Farabee will become a sniper. He has shown that kind of potential. Or Owen Tippett.

Tippett could be that guy in front of the net on the power play but he’s too good of a shooter to consistently play there.

Shutdown defenseman? Chris Pronger was. So was, in his own way, Eric Desjardins. Mark Howe was a Hall of Famer who used his skating skills and smarts to play superior defense.

Can Emil Andrae grow into that role? Or Egor Zamula? Or Cam York? How about one of the strong, good-sized prospects working their way to the NHL?

Speciality Teams

In today’s NHL, speciality teams often have a great impact on the outcome of games.

The Flyers ranked only 26th in penalty-killing last season. This is an area that should improve with Noah Cates continuing his development and the expected return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson. 

The Flyers ranked 29th in the league with the man-advantage last season. Who is the Flyers’ power-play specialist? Tippett? He could be at some point. He led the Flyers with eight power-play goals last season. That number should improve with increased man-advantage time. The runner-up last season? Kevin Hayes with six power-play goals and he’s now with the Blues.

James van Riemsdyk was considered something of a power-play specialist. But JVR scored only two man-advantage goals in 61 games last season and he’s now with the Bruins.

Shayne Gostisbehere used to be that power-play guy with his frequent blasts from the point. He’s now with the Red Wings.

Some of the young players might develop into effective offensive players, guys to be reckoned with on the power play — Tyson Foerster, Morgan Frost, Bobby Brink, among others.

Watching players develop brings a special kind of anticipation and angst. The talent is there, maybe consistency is not. It’s part of the process.

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