We all know the guys who stir the Flyers’ drink. And if new captain Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, along with aging defenseman Kimmo Timonen and enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov don’t do their part, then none of the rest will matter.
But here are a few others who could make — or break — this Flyers’ shortened season.
» Matt Read: The kid from Bemidji State (Minn.) came out of nowhere to post 24 goals while displaying blazing speed. Now that he’s no longer a secret, what happens? Read spent the lockout playing in Sweden, so he’s hoping to pick up where he left off (three goals in the playoffs). With teams focusing on the Flyers’ big guns, they need players like Read to make them pay.
» Luke Schenn: The Flyers have long-lusted after the older Schenn brother and now they finally have him, even if the cost was James van Riemsdyk. Schenn is big (6-foot-2, 229 lbs.) and strong, and not afraid to clear people from the net, averaging more than 100 penalty minutes. But he’s no Matt Carle in terms of puck handling or shooting the puck.
» Jake Voracek: No one frustrated the fans — and his bosses — more than Voracek, the No. 7 pick in the 2007 draft promise. After struggling his first three years in Columbus, Voracek showed a willingness to work hard and come up with the puck. While his 18 goals was a career-high, he seemed capable of a lot more. Perhaps having signed a long-term contract, and knowing he’s here to stay, will settle him down and let the juices flow.
» Wayne Simmonds: We’d heard Simmonds was a gritty player who didn’t mind mixing it up and specialized in scoring those “dirty” goals in front of the net. But we certainly weren’t expecting 28 goals, tying him for second on the team behind Hartnell. That’s 12 more than his previous career-high, 11 coming on the power play. So was that the rugged Simmonds simply coming of age? Or a fluke?
» Bruno Gervais: Penalty-killer supreme Max Talbot’s childhood buddy is now his teammate. More important, the 28-year-old Gervais figures to be a key part of the Flyers’ defense, which most consider the team’s weak link. Gervais, a career Islander with 15 career goals in 381 games, will need to help hold down the fort while Andrej Meszaros, Eric Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourbon recover from assorted ailments. If he does it well enough, he just might stay in the lineup once they return.
» Michael Leighton: You’re excused for wondering if this is déjà vu. But the man who brought the 2010 Flyers within sight of the Cup — until Patrick Kane’s Game 6 sharp-angle shot somehow sneaked through his pads — is back as Ilya Bryzgalov’s backup. How much he’ll play is uncertain. But if Bryz can’t handle the load, it will again fall on a player who spent most of the last two seasons in the AHL. And guess who’s waiting in the wings should either go down with an injury? None other than Brian Boucher. Apparently once a Flyer, always a Flyer.