(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)
By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly editor
Playoff hockey is a hell of a spectacle. But it's just not the same when the hometown team makes it to the postseason.
As a fan, one might enjoy the Stanley Cup Playoffs very much regardless, but there's an empty feeling when the Flyers goose is cooked before they even have a shot at a Stanley Cup. That being said, what are the Flyers chances of making it back to the postseason this season?
That answer is a big unknown at this point, but lots of things can certainly determine their fate.
First, there's the need for veterans to make a stand. Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek are the three main pillars of the Flyers offense. While Simmonds had a career season last year, Giroux and Voracek didn't make as big an impact as in recent years.
The addition of Nolan Patrick and possible other young forwards will hopefully be the spark inside the vets and they will put up numbers good enough to reach the postseason. But it falls on the veterans to be better and provide the leadership and timely offense to be a playoff team.
Next, how will the goaltending hold up? Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott are this season's goalie tandem. Both goalies have been modestly consistent in their careers. However, will they be able to hold each other up if one struggles?
Elliott hasn't been an elite goalie in the NHL since being traded from St. Louis. On the other hand, Neuvirth has had his fair share of injuries. Lots of concerns surround each goalie, but if they can make it work and get help from defensemen, then things might play out well for the Flyers in that department.
Speaking of defensemen, that leads to the next factor in solving the Flyers' playoff problem. This season could see new talent come to the blue line in Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and more. A fresh crop of defensemen combined with more young talent like Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere could spell success for the Flyers' defensive situation.
Veterans like Radko Gudas can really teach the young guns a thing or two. A young blue line combined with the experience of savvy vets can be a huge key in unlocking playoff potential for Philadelphia.
Overall, a mixture of all these factors will determine whether or not the Flyers can burst through the playoff bubble and make it to the postseason. The Metropolitan Division is arguably the best in the NHL which gives the Flyers a tough mountain to climb.
There is hope for Philadelphia if newcomers and young talent can be the catalyst the team needs to make it back into the playoffs and make a legitimate run at a Stanley Cup.