By Jenny Masters
The Flyers open the 2022-23 season Thursday night at the Wells against the Jersey Devils.
Philly was awful last season, and even with new coach John Tortorella, it seems they’ll be just as bad on the ice as last year.
If not worse.
Last season: 25-46-11 (61 points), missed playoffs
Stanley Cup odds: +12,500
Key players added: LW Nicolas Deslauriers, D Tony DeAngelo, D Justin Braun
Key players lost: G Martin Jones
Most fascinating player: Tony DeAngelo. Philadelphia traded for DeAngelo from Carolina in July, immediately signed him to a two-year deal and has since popped him next to Ivan Provorov on the team’s top pairing. It’s a critical role for DeAngelo to fill on a Flyers’ team that projects to struggle for offense this season. Winning those lower-scoring affairs will require reliable performances from the blue line. Can DeAngelo deliver on that? The Hurricanes opted not to keep the 26-year-old right-shot defender, despite their own needs on the back end. Will DeAngelo prove Philadelphia was correct to give him a lucrative new deal and a new heft of responsibility?
Best case: Incoming coach John Tortorella pulls off a 180-degree turn with the Flyers’ culture. His hard-nosed approach translates into Philadelphia’s play, and it’s competitive out of the gate. Cam Atkinson and Kevin Hayes provide some offensive prowess, and the Flyers actually have some fun. Philadelphia narrowly misses the playoffs but lays a foundation of confidence and internal respect to build off.
Worst case: The Flyers’ missing pieces — namely Ryan Ellis and Sean Couturier — leave them vulnerable once more and unable to keep pace most nights through three periods. Tortorella’s bruising nature eventually grates on players who tune out his message. GM Chuck Fletcher has no choice but to trade any remaining assets at the deadline, and Philadelphia free falls to another bottom-place finish in the Metro.
X factor: Can Philadelphia actually get by on brotherly love? That sentiment has been a theme in the preseason, starting with Tortorella’s overhaul and translating into the “power of friendship” assistant coach Brad Shaw cited as a Flyers strength for the season. It’s hard to fathom Philadelphia being markedly better on the ice than last season, but what impact could enjoying the process of playing have on this group’s psyche?
Fantasy outlook: The defense is a bright spot, with Ivan Provorov able to achieve fantasy points through his defense and newcomer Tony DeAngelo expected to do the same through offense.