Friday, December 16, 2005

Flyers: All things considered...

For my favourite hockey club, it hasn't exactly been the best of times:

Number of games played with the projected lineup (out of 30): Zero
Number of games played with the top two centremen in the lineup: 9
Number of games played with the top checking line intact: Zero
Number of rookies (or players with fewer than 40 NHL games) appearing this season: 13
Number of players in the minor leagues last season appearing this season: 18

Now, the games not available due to injury list:
Peter Forsberg: 6
Simon Gagne: 3 (and counting)
Joni Pitkanen: 5 (and counting)
Mike Richards: 1 (and counting)
Kim Johnsson: 1
Eric Desjardins: 12 (and counting)
Keith Primeau: 21 (and counting)
Brian Savage: 13 (and counting)
Dennis Seidenberg: 13
Robert Esche: 6 (and counting)
Branko Radivojevic: 1
Chris Therien: 2
Turner Stevenson: 19 (and counting)

With all of that, 40 points after 30 games is pretty doggone good.
And the silver linings? Two.
One: The Flyers have found out that some young guys are legitimate NHL players. Everybody pretty much figured Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were legit, and they have been. But not many realized that R.J. Umberger was NHL-ready, and he is. Ben Eager and Freddy Meyer are also getting a baptism of fire and performing at least competently (it's interesting that Hitchcock is pairing Meyer with Seidenberg, based on their familiarity from their time with the Phantoms last season). Antero "Frank" Niittymaki is a legitimate NHL goalie, also.
Two: Just think of how this team is going to click when everybody gets healthy and up to speed.
Forsberg is, well, Forsberg. The best player on the planet.
Gagne is the least-heralded superstar in the NHL.
Mike Knuble deserves a U.S. Olympic berth. Why Boston ever let him get away, I'll never understand.
Derian Hatcher, over the last 10-15 games, is playing the best hockey of his life (not bad for a guy who was thought to be too slow for the new NHL).

It's gonna be a fun run, if the injury bug would just stop biting.