Two months and 34 games.

By then, Flyers fans can only hope their team has the answer to some nagging questions — if they hope to make a serious Stanley Cup run.

Unfortunately, this year’s questions are the same ones that have nagged them the last few seasons.

Who’s between the pipes? Who’s back on the blue line to keep players from getting too comfortable in front of the net? And who’s going to be healthy enough to answer the call?

With the second half of the season getting under way tomorrow night, how that plays out between now and April could determine what ultimately happens in May and perhaps June.


Presumably during that span Peter Laviolette will figure out if he can trust eccentric Ilya Bryzgalov to stop pucks as well as he delivers one-liners over vastly improved Sergei Bobrovsky. He’ll also know if his Chris Pronger-less defense gets some needed reinforcements by the late February trading deadline or if he’ll have to force-feed rookies Marc-Andre Bourdon and Eric Gustafsson in the postseason.

Finally, will the string of concussions that have most recently sidelined James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere, not to mention putting Pronger’s career at jeopardy, continue to haunt them?

With all those uncertainties, Laviolette has to be secretly thrilled to find his club with 63 points at the break, the No. 4 seed in the East but just three points off the Rangers pace in the Atlantic.

Three questions at the break

1. What about Bryz?

Ilya Bryzgalov may prove his $51 million worth. It’s just appearing more and more likely it won’t be this year. Bryzgalov has been inconsistent from the start, repeatedly vulnerable on deflections and sharp angle shots. In contrast, Sergei Bobrovsky has been solid all season.

2. Help on the way?

Chris Pronger’s absence, particularly his physical, borderline dirty style of clearing players away from the net, has had a trickle down effect, with them giving up nearly a goal a game more since he’s been out. GM Paul Holmgren will do his best to bring in somebody.

3. How about the kids?

With eight rookies in the lineup it would be only natural to expect them to start acting their age when the games get bigger. But that theory doesn’t seem to fly here. Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Zac Rinaldo seem oblivious to the idea they’re supposed to be scared. In fact, they look better and better with each game.

Latest From ...