41-35-6 (7th in East); lost in finals to Blackhawks
D Andrej Meszaros, D Sean O'Donnell, RW Nikolai Zherdev
RW Arron Asham, LW Simon Gagne, D Lukas Krajicek
REMEMBER THE FLYERS
last spring? They qualified for the playoffs with a shootout goal in the final regular-season game, upset the Devils in the first round, rallied from a three-games-to-none hole to beat the Bruins in round 2 and wound up coming within two wins of the Stanley Cup. The Cinderella run obscured the fact that Philadelphia is a good, deep team that underperformed for much of 2009--10 and should have no trouble getting back to the postseason in '11.
Centers Mike Richards (below), Jeff Carter and Daniel Brière anchor productive lines that are long on grit. The defense, paced by ferocious Chris Pronger and fortified by the development of twentysomethings Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn, added size and experience in the off-season along with Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell. The only uncertainty is in goal, where playoff hero Michael Leighton will get most of the time. Before Philly claimed him off waivers last December, Leighton had a record of 18-35-10 and an ugly .896 save percentage in parts of five seasons. The Flyers can win with an average goaltender but not with a lousy one; only if Leighton, 29, reverts to his worst ways will memories of his marvelous spring give way to a winter of discontent.