VOORHEES — With all but one forward roster spot filled for the 2009-10 season, the biggest question for the Flyers becomes … who is with who?
“I like the combination of forwards we have now,” said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. “We have three really good lines and we have a ton of guys who are competing for a spot on the team. And that’s a good situation to have going into training camp.”
The Flyers open training camp on Sept. 13 at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. And although the team is primarily keeping the same line chemistry as last season, there will be some changes.
“Right now we have (Jeff) Carter with (Scott) Hartnell, (Mike) Richards and (Simon) Gagne together and we will have (Claude) Giroux and Danny Briere probably start together and just work guys in around them, just seeing how it goes,” said Flyers’ coach John Stevens. “But one game it might be set up one way and another game it will be set up differently. We want to see what we have in training camp and go from there.”
With the combinations listed above, the Flyers have three open winger spots and a possible fourth-line center vacancy. The four openings have suitors in Daniel Carcillo, Darroll Powe and Ian Laperriere, with lesser odds handed out to Mika Pyorala, Blair Betts, Mark Bell, Patrick Maroon and Andreas Nodl.
“We’re going to start with the lines spread out, giving a lot of guys the opportunity to make our team,” said Stevens. “Like Bell and Betts and guys in our organization.”
But while Stevens looks for chemistry by rotating wingers, one thing is for sure – Briere will not play center.
“He’s going to start on the wing,” said Stevens. “We’re going to move people around. We have a lot of guys here we need to have a look at, so where they start won’t necessarily be where they finish. But we know Danny will be on the wing.”
With the loss of Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul, matched with the addition of Chris Pronger, the Flyers’ power play is set to look much different. But as Stevens points out, the people may change but the scheme won’t.
“Being a shooting power play that goes hard to the net will not change, but the personnel may,” said Stevens. “We expect to have 1a and 1b power play units like in years past.
“One thing that might change is where Richards plays. We might move him down low instead of at the point. With the absence of Knuble and Lupul, it’s more than likely Richards moves to up front.”
Despite some cosmetic changes, the biggest difference in the Flyers’ 2009-10 power play may be on the blue line, where the team is suddenly stacked with Pronger and Timonen as the top special team’s pairing and Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle rounding out the second group.
“We’re going to look at those two guys (Pronger and Timonen) starting together,” said Stevens. “Ideally I think that’s like we want to do, with Pronger’s big shot up top and Kimmo always being that calm, composed element on our power play. We’re going to have to get out on the ice and see how it goes.”
When asked if he thinks the power play will allow the defense to get more shots at the net, Timonen perked up.
“I hope so,” Timonen laughed. “We haven’t talked about that yet, but I’m sure when (Pronger) is on the ice he will want some pucks. We’ll see how they work that out, but I’m sure we’ll get used.”