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Why Philadelphia will win the Cup


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With their scoring depth and improved play in net, the Philadelphia Flyers have all the elements needed to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 37 years.

The Big Why: The Flyers attack with size, speed and skill across all four forward lines. They had four players with at least 20 goals, and eight with at least 15 this regular season.

Claude Giroux has emerged as the team's best player and a Hart Trophy candidate, while Scott Hartnell has become an offensive force that somehow flirted with the 40-goal barrier. Jaromir Jagr rounds out the top line and, even at age 40, remains a threat to score every time he's on the ice.

Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek have turned in career-best seasons and vastly outperformed the players for whom they were traded -- Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, respectively.

Simmonds has joined with center Danny Briere and rookie Brayden Schenn in the past month to form an outstanding second scoring line, and Voracek and rookies Matt Read and Eric Wellwood bring speed, skill and tenacity to the third line.

The fourth line features Maxime Talbot, who has a career-high in goals and is a veteran presence that has recently won the Stanley Cup.

A good amount of the Flyers offense this season has come without James van Riemsdyk. He's played just six games since the All-Star break due to a concussion and a broken foot, but he showed last season he could be a prime-time player, scoring seven goals in 11 playoff games.

Philadelphia's depth also goes to its defense.

Even though top defenseman Chris Pronger has been out most of the season, other players have stepped up in his absence. The top pairing of Braydon Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann feature some big bodies and is stout defensively.

Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle and Pavel Kubina are regulars in the lineup, with Andreas Lilja and rookies Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon rotating in as the sixth defenseman. At some point Andrej Meszaros will return from back surgery, adding to the skill and depth.

And after a rocky start, Ilya Bryzgalov is playing like a $50 million goaltender. He was outstanding in March, posting 10 wins, four shutouts and setting the club record for a consecutive scoreless streak.

The Big Uh-Oh: Could the Stanley Cup Playoff spotlight burn too bright on Bryzgalov, who, in turn, reverts to the goalie that struggled for most of the season?

Also, health could be a concern. Briere (back) and Grossmann (lower body) sat out the final three regular-season games. Grossmann's absence in particular could create a void on the blue line.

The Final Argument: Bryzgalov played fewer games this season than during his past few seasons in Phoenix, and he's rounding his game into form at just the right time. With their goalie playing at a high level and an offense that knows how to fill the net, it's hard to see any team beating Philadelphia four times in seven games.

These 2011-12 Flyers will join the Broad Street Bullies in League lore as Philadelphia champions.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@NHL95.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHL95AdamK

NHL.com

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I'd love to believe this article, but I think it is overly optimistic. We all know anything is possible in the playoffs, but our team is VERY young and getting to the finals let alone winning the cup is a tough slog even for experienced teams. Yesterdays game was a good example of vets coming through seemingly with ease because of our youth and injured d-men.

Personally, this team has far exceeded my expectations and I am proud of what they have accomplished this year. I agree the future looks bright but we may be one to two years away. As you mentioned, let's enjoy it while it lasts.

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I'd love to believe this article, but I think it is overly optimistic. We all know anything is possible in the playoffs, but our team is VERY young and getting to the finals let alone winning the cup is a tough slog even for experienced teams. Yesterdays game was a good example of vets coming through seemingly with ease because of our youth and injured d-men.

Personally, this team has far exceeded my expectations and I am proud of what they have accomplished this year. I agree the future looks bright but we may be one to two years away. As you mentioned, let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Can't agree with you more. This team has gone way above of what I thought they would. They had 106 pts last year vs. 103 pts this year. Same amount of wins. To think what Homer did in gutting this team and what we have now. Yes, the future is indeed bright. However this is not a cup contender this year, strictly because of youth. But, as the saying goes, anything can happen in the playoffs. Case in point, who would have thought you have a #7 vs #8 in the Conference Finals like it was a couple years ago.

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@PuckMeister, you have a valid point. it seems overly optimistic, but so was even making the playoffs in 09-10.

i think the only real test of all teams in the east is the rangers due to the flyers incredibly poor record this season against them. i think the flyers match well against every team in the east and if they were to play the rangers, if they can put what happened in the season behind them, i think they can make a real run for the playoffs. i think grossmann will be key and getting meszaros / briere / jvr back could really help our already strong team. i think the wild card will truly be the rookies. they have played well in the season, but how will they adapt to the playoffs?

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Bryz is going to stay wealthy no matter what with his contract.

I do agree that it's going to really come down to Bryzgalov's play.

And if PLAYOFF BRIERE shows i like their chances a whole lot more.

Bryz plays like he did in march and they actually have a good chance at pulling the first round out.

We shall certainly see......

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meh. not going to happen, though it's nice to think about. maybe give it another couple years to mature and marinate. it's a good group and they've been great to watch. this playoff series versus the Penguins will certainly be one for the ages. can't wait for it, actually. cancelling all and any plans for Wednesday.

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Gentlemen, I am pleased to see that most of you have hopes for a successful playoff run. Seems everyone points out valid concerns about this team as have I. Now the pundits are writing that the rookies will be key to this run. I wouldn't have guessed that would be the case considering all of the injuries! Just love how they always point out the obvious which brings me to my next point. Our rookies do not have that same playoff experience as the other teams, and I wonder how they will hold up under the pressure of the run. Realize of course that we could be down 2-3 games by the time the vets return from their ER visits. I'm hoping for the best but I see this as an experience and confidence building exercise. The younger players have to learn HOW to win during the second season. I'll be wearing my rosery beads down to chain and crucifix. The best to all.

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Gentlemen, I am pleased to see that most of you have hopes for a successful playoff run. Seems everyone points out valid concerns about this team as have I. Now the pundits are writing that the rookies will be key to this run. I wouldn't have guessed that would be the case considering all of the injuries! Just love how they always point out the obvious which brings me to my next point. Our rookies do not have that same playoff experience as the other teams, and I wonder how they will hold up under the pressure of the run. Realize of course that we could be down 2-3 games by the time the vets return from their ER visits. I'm hoping for the best but I see this as an experience and confidence building exercise. The younger players have to learn HOW to win during the second season. I'll be wearing my rosery beads down to chain and crucifix. The best to all.

sometimes the naivety of youth is the right recipe for something like this. they have the energy and blind ambition to get it done. not saying they will, but these are kids that probably heard a lot of 'you can't do that' on their way to just making it to the nhl. well, here they are and they've done well. the playoffs are a grind and half the battle is having the legs at the end of the marathon. having this many young players bodes well for that.

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However this is not a cup contender this year, strictly because of youth.

I agree this is not a Stanley Cup material, but not necessarily because of youth. I think Schenn, Couturier and Reed showed time and time again that they are more than ready to play a big role. What will hurt this team, eventually, is 1) questionable goaltending, 2) inconsistent defense and 3) lack of team toughness. Unfortunately, the loss of Pronger proved insurmountable, but did anybody really expect that not to be the case? You can replace the Carters and Richards of the world, but you can't replace Pronger. After Giroux, I really felt this is a player they could not afford to lose. And they won’t have Meszaros either, which is a big blow to this team’s chances.

I hate predicting – I just think it’s a futile and meaningless exercise. But if I would have to forecast, I feel they can certainly get past the 1st round if Briere and Grossmann are 100% and Bryzgalov doesn't implode... But realistically, I think expecting much beyond that would be setting your expectations up too high.

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I would like our chances a lot better if we were healthier. I think we would be Cup favorites if....

1.) If our D were 100% healthy. Could you imagine how strong our back end would be with Pronger, Carle, Kimmo, Coburn, Grossman, Kubina?!

2.) if playoff Briere and 2011 playoff JVR were 100% healthy and in the line up. Our forward roster would be Giroux, Hartnell, Jagr, Briere, JVR, Simmonds, Voracek, Talbot, Schenn, Cotourier, Read, Wellwood/Rinaldo. That is scary depth.

3.) if March Bryzgolov showed up.

Unfortunately those are some big factors to be up in the air and I am probably the only Flyer fan on this board that doesnt think they will win this series against a 100% healthy and very potent Pens team. I hope I am wrong though and I love our extremely bright future and think if we can keep the core together and keep our guys healthy, there is no reason why the Flyers wont be making deep cup runs for the next few years.

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