There is one team in Philly that has quietly had to take a backseat in the Philadelphia sports headlines over the last few months. When their season started in October, the Phillies were in the middle of their run for what we thought was another World Series Title. After a sudden ending to the Phillies season, most Philly Phans turned their attention to the Eagles.
Vick was making everyone forget about his past and the past failures of the team and an unnamed quarterback. Then a few weeks ago, the Eagles season ended just as sudden as the Phillies. The Sixers are playing a lot better lately, but they are at least a few years from contending. Now it’s time that Philadelphia takes notice about what is happening in the Wells Fargo Center. As of Friday night, the Flyers had the most points in the NHL. They have not missed a beat since just falling short in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. So what player is most responsible for the team’s great start?
The easiest and most common answer to that question is captain Mike Richards. He doesn’t always get the national headlines but he is one of the best all around players in the game. Richards does everything except running the zamboni between periods. He currently leads the team with 44 points (17 G 27 A). He is a crucial part of the teams penalty kill and always seems to get a shorthanded goal every now and then (3 SHG). He is also a great defensive forward. But is he the most important player on the team? Richards is great, but he doesn’t lead the team in goals scored and isn’t one of the two Flyers to be selected to all star game. That honor goes to newly added all star F Danny Briere who has continued his hot run in the playoffs with a great start to the season. He went from a borderline free agent bust to a being the best player on the ice at times. Briere currently leads the team in goals with 25 goals. But is Briere is even the best pure goal scorer on the team.
That honor might go to F Jeff Carter who is just behind Briere with 20 goals. Carter can score from anywhere on the ice and has one of the best shots in the game. He is also tied with Briere for the most game winning goals on the team with 5. But like Richards, even though he has had a great year. He won’t be joining Briere in the all star game. Originally when the team was announced, there was only one Flyer who was named to the team. That player is future super star F Claude Giroux. After some of the plays and passes this 23 year old makes, you would be convinced he has eyes on the back and sides of his helmet. The youngster has even drawn comparisons to former Flyer and perennial NHL all star Peter Forsberg. Whenever you watch Giroux play you are left amazed, and know that he is on the verge of being a very special player.
Is the most important player on the team the one who is the on the ice the most? That honor would go to D Kimmo Timonen. He currently leads the team with an average total ice time of 22:29 per game. I believe that has consistently been overlooked for the all star game and is one of the better defenseman in the game. But if he is not the best defenseman on the team, how can he be the most important player? D Chris Pronger is clearly the best on the team. He has consistently been one of the top defenders in the league and was a huge reason for their deep playoff run they made last year. Pronger is very important to the team, but he just missed the last few weeks with a foot injury and it seemed as though the team barely missed him.
So who is the most important player on the team? The answer to that question is there is no one player who you can give that honor. I named six players who would get consideration, and I failed to name NHL Plus/Minus leader Andrej Meszaros, JVR, Scott Hartnell or either of the goalies Bob or Boucher. I probably could have named even more players. The reason that this team is so good is not because they have just one player like a Sidney CRosbY or an Alexander Ovechkin. Its because they a have a lot of players who do their part. So Philadelphia, it’s time to notice this great TEAM that is playing right now down in South Philly. Will this season end with Mike Richards lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup? It just might, but make sure you pay attention and enjoy the show this team can put on.