I have been a strong advocate of the need for NHL to step up and do something so don’t take me for a person who benefits from others loss but it is extremely naïve not to notice the opportunity window that has opened for the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.
The Flyers are a more than capable team and also have a very talented squad at their disposal but it goes without saying that they might struggle at first against skilled opposition. Obviously the new players that replace the injured will need time to adjust to the increased levels of expectations as they will take center stage now. This gives a short window of opportunity to the three aforementioned teams to take advantage and subsequently overtake the Flyers at the top of the table. And by the time the new players adjust to new surroundings, they might already be fighting a lost cause. For the sake of the Flyers, I hope that’s not the case.
The Penguins are without Crosby too but they have managed wonderfully without their superstar. There were times during this season when the Penguins were without all of the three; Crosby, Malkin and Staal but still found ways to win games and eliminate opposition. The Penguins have been in dominant form without Crosby and there is no reason to believe they can go all the way without him.
The Flyers would need some defensive reinforcements but I do believe that they will contend with their existing group of offensive players and offer the chance for them to really test their squad depth. The Penguins are going to do all it takes to keep their forward momentum going and create space between them and the Flyers in the Atlantic Division.
The Bruins are the next biggest team that is going to take advantage of this situation. Although not in the Atlantic Division they are in the Eastern Conference and the Flyers are one of their toughest opposition. They are also going to their best to create a gap between themselves and the Flyers at the top of the Conference standings. Since they are the defending Stanley Cup champions, there is no reason for them to not force their way deep into playoffs this team around. I’m not saying that the Flyers are done and dusted but the fact that they are going to have a very difficult journey ahead of them.
And this brings us to the biggest beneficiary, the New York Rangers. They are already hot on the heels of the Flyers and the rivalry between the two teams goes deep. They would love to go top of the Atlantic Division and will surely mount a serious challenge. The Rangers also have their set of injury problems and it make for an interesting coming weeks.
Lets hope that Flyers can add a solid defenseman in absence of Pronger to help them in their run and I’m praying that the NHL finally takes a deep view of the challenge that is ahead of them in dealing with concussions.