The Philadelphia Flyers have announced their preseason schedule. Assuming that the potential NHL lockout doesn't limit the season, the team will play a total of seven preseason games. Three will be at home and three will come on the road. There will also be a game played in London, Ontario that will count as a fourth home game. As a fan, I understand just how boring the preseason can be. However, this will be an important part of the year for the Flyers. During the last preseason, several young stars emerged and stole roster spots. That same thing could happen again this fall.
The Flyers will open the preseason at home on September 25 against the Chicago Blackhawks. They will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in Ontario the following night before returning to Philadelphia for home games against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. After that, the Flyers will play three straight road games against Toronto, New Jersey, and Chicago. As far as preseason slates go, this is about as exciting as things can get. Fans will get to enjoy two games against Chicago, the team that beat the Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. Meanwhile, the Flyers will get face off against James van Riemsdyk in the two games against the Maple Leafs. The games against the Devils and Rangers should draw some mild interest as well given the nature of the rivalries. Given those factors, I can see myself enjoying these games.
Of course, this is preseason and results don't matter. The real reason to watch is to see how the roster will shape up before the regular season begins on October 11. In 2011, the anticipation for preseason was high given the makeover that the Flyers had. Scoring leaders Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were out while goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was in. The buzz won't be as high in 2012, but there will be things to watch for in these seven games. Will Luke Schenn blend in with the defense? What forwards will step up and prove that they can fill the scoring void created by the losses of JVR and Jaromir Jagr? What will Bryzgalov's head be like as he prepares for his second season in the city? Will rookies like Scott Laughton play the same way that Sean Couturier and Matt Read played in the 2011 preseason? We learned a lot about the 2011-12 Flyers during the last preseason. We are likely to learn a lot about the 2012-13 Flyers during these seven games.
Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Flyers fan.
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