(Kate Frese/SB Nation)
By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
The time is almost upon us. Wednesday night in San Jose, the Flyers will open the 2017-18 season against the Sharks.
Philadelphia's 23-man roster was finalized on Monday and there are multiple reasons to be excited for the newest chapter of Flyers hockey.
First, it's a brand new season. Yes, this applies to every team, but for the Flyers it's a chance to redeem themselves.
Last year had its ups and downs for the club with a disappointing fizzle in the latter stages of the season. Now, the team comes into things with a clean slate. The let-downs of yesterday are in the rear view and it's time to look forward.
Next, there's finally some new blood on the squad. Philadelphia's prospect pipeline is chock-full of talent and fans will finally see some of the Flyers top young players come to the big club.
Forward Taylor Leier and defenseman Robert Hagg have made the opening night roster, according to GM Ron Hextall. Also, it's no surprise to many that second overall pick Nolan Patrick was named to the final roster as well. Patrick, who wore No. 64 for the preseason, will now wear his familiar No. 19 on the ice. For now, Travis Sanheim and Sam Morin are also both on the roster, however, their stay could be brief depending on when Shayne Gostisbehere is ready for game action after suffering an upper-body injury in Sunday's preseason finale.
The young talent made an impressive impact throughout the preseason and the Flyers and fans are hoping it continues when things really count starting Wednesday.
In addition to young talent, returning players are poised to rebound from last season's woes. The Flyers core forwards, aside from Wayne Simmonds, are looking to bounce back after producing unexpectedly low numbers in the previous campaign.
Captain Claude Giroux may be used on the left wing just to shake things up and kickstart a productive year in the scoring column. Giroux played in the left wing position along with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek in the latter games of the preseason. Like Giroux, Voracek is also looking to bounce back after a scoring slump last season.
Philadelphia's veteran forwards could benefit from better depth and the addition of young talent as well, but need to be key contributors as expected. A new season just allows them to turn the page on last year's struggles and start fresh.
Lastly, there's a new goaltending duo in town. Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth will backstop the Flyers this season. Each goalie looked solid in the time they played during the preseason. It appears Elliott could get the call to open the season in San Jose after Neuvirth fell ill a few days back and didn't play in the final two preseason games. That is still to be determined.
The key for the duo will be staying healthy, as both have had their injury problems in the past. If the two goaltenders stay healthy and play consistently, the Flyers could make a real impact in their respective division.
So, training camp and the preseason are over and the Flyers are ready to take the ice for another NHL season. Many questions remain unanswered, but as the season progresses more answers will come to light. But there's one question that doesn't need an answer.
Philadelphia, are you ready for some hockey?