With their scoring depth and improved play in net, the Philadelphia Flyers have all the elements needed to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 37 years.
The Big Why: The Flyers attack with size, speed and skill across all four forward lines. They had four players with at least 20 goals, and eight with at least 15 this regular season.
Claude Giroux has emerged as the team's best player and a Hart Trophy candidate, while Scott Hartnell has become an offensive force that somehow flirted with the 40-goal barrier. Jaromir Jagr rounds out the top line and, even at age 40, remains a threat to score every time he's on the ice.Jakub Voracek have turned in career-best seasons and vastly outperformed the players for whom they were traded -- Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, respectively.
Simmonds has joined with center Danny Briere and rookie Brayden Schenn in the past month to form an outstanding second scoring line, and Voracek and rookies Matt Read and Eric Wellwood bring speed, skill and tenacity to the third line.
The fourth line features Maxime Talbot, who has a career-high in goals and is a veteran presence that has recently won the Stanley Cup.
A good amount of the Flyers offense this season has come without James van Riemsdyk. He's played just six games since the All-Star break due to a concussion and a broken foot, but he showed last season he could be a prime-time player, scoring seven goals in 11 playoff games.
Philadelphia's depth also goes to its defense.
Even though top defenseman Chris Pronger has been out most of the season, other players have stepped up in his absence. The top pairing of Braydon Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann feature some big bodies and is stout defensively.
Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle and Pavel Kubina are regulars in the lineup, with Andreas Lilja and rookies Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon rotating in as the sixth defenseman. At some point Andrej Meszaros will return from back surgery, adding to the skill and depth.
And after a rocky start, Ilya Bryzgalov is playing like a $50 million goaltender. He was outstanding in March, posting 10 wins, four shutouts and setting the club record for a consecutive scoreless streak.
The Big Uh-Oh: Could the Stanley Cup Playoff spotlight burn too bright on Bryzgalov, who, in turn, reverts to the goalie that struggled for most of the season?
Also, health could be a concern. Briere (back) and Grossmann (lower body) sat out the final three regular-season games. Grossmann's absence in particular could create a void on the blue line.
The Final Argument: Bryzgalov played fewer games this season than during his past few seasons in Phoenix, and he's rounding his game into form at just the right time. With their goalie playing at a high level and an offense that knows how to fill the net, it's hard to see any team beating Philadelphia four times in seven games.
These 2011-12 Flyers will join the Broad Street Bullies in League lore as Philadelphia champions.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK