On this exciting day of the NHL regular season opener, teams will be looking to find compatibility in their lines, as almost every team playing tonight have been altered one way or another this offseason. In the first games that matter, players will be looking to find chemistry with each other.
Perhaps the most prolific shake up this offseason, the Philadelphia Flyers have almost completely restructured their team. The only constant that remains at the moment is their defense. They have gone from having the league's most unpredictable goaltending tandem (or trio for that matter), to having a proven top five goaltender in the entire league. They have also lost two of the most recognized centers in the league in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, and have now found themselves with a plethora of prominent young talent on their wings.
There is no doubt that the Flyers could turn into an absolutely lethal team that contends for the cup, but by looking at the current depth chart, there are some things that just look odd at the moment. For example, seeing a completely unfamiliar third and fourth line creates a sense of uncertainty. Likewise, seeing Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell, and Danny Briere together for the first time in the regular season will raise some concerns as to how the chemistry will eventually turn out to be. The first line will create the most uncertainty on this team, as Claude Giroux now takes charge as the first line center with expected breakout winger, James Van Reimsdyk, and long time veteran, Jaromir Jagr. Jagr is nearly twice the age of both of his linemates, and has been on rival teams to the Flyers for the majority of his lengthly NHL career. This will definitely raise some curiosity as to how he will fit into this team.
The bottom line is, no one knows what is to come of this completely renewed Flyers team, but like everything else, nothing is built to perfection overnight. The coaches and players will have to go through a number of trial and errors to find the right combinations. Until then, they will need to rely on solid defense and goaltending. Tonight will be the first test, as they face arguably the most structured and solidified lineup in the entire league. Unless Ilya Bryzgalov absolutely stands on his head and Tim Thomas is still experiencing the Stanley Cup hangover, I expect the Boston Bruins to win this one comfortably.