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Thursday, March 21, 2002
Updated: September 30, 1:49 PM ET
Hitchock: Just what the doc ordered

ESPN.com

Jeremy Roenick
Roenick
It's all about potential, and the superstars (i.e. Jeremy Roenick, John LeClair, Keith Primeau, Mark Recchi, Simon Gagne) haven't played up to theirs. Cup-winning coach Ken Hitchcock's task will be to create cohesion and get them out of their early-playoff-exit funk. Hitch won't tolerate locker room griping or do any ego-massaging. General manager Bob Clarke is going to love this guy. He may be the only one.

The Big Question

Q: Will Hitch be too hard, or just what the doctor ordered?
I think he'll be the perfect tonic. The players in Philly begged for structure and technical direction last season. Hitch can supply both. His choices to assist him were strokes of genius: Craig Hartsburg, former head coach of Chicago and Anaheim and one of the NHL's all-time great defenseman, and the underrated tactician Wayne Fleming, still one of the best-kept secrets in the game. The Philly boys won't mind Hitch being hard on them as long as he respects them. It's a fair way to do business in the NHL. One thing the Flyers are blessed with is honest leaders.
-- Bill Clement




Good: Simon Gagne has improved in each of his three seasons, and this is the year he leads the Flyers in scoring. Already a 30-goal scorer, Gagne produces in every stat except PIMS. Look for more shots and points this year.

Bad: At 33, John LeClair is no youngster, and combined with serious back problems he's not recommended at this point. LeClair managed a productive 25-goal campaign last year, but his days of health and dominance are over.
-- Eric Karabell

Top Prospect
Patrick Sharp, C
Picked 95th overall in 2001, Sharp played for two seasons at the University of Vermont, going there after skating for hometown Thunder Bay in the junior USHL. Has turned into a better prospect than originally expected.

Minors Outlook
Philadelphia Phantoms
The bottom dropped out of the Phantoms' goal-scoring machine last season as they endured one of the bumpiest rides in franchise history. Once again, Philly looks to have more strength on defense than up front, but could get some offensive help down from the Flyers.
-- Bill Ballou


Forwards
We still can't figure out how this crew mustered only two goals in five games against the Senators in the first round of the playoffs last season. Their top two lines -- Simone Gagne - Jeremy Roenick - Mark Recchi, John LeClair - Keith Primeau - Justin Williams -- are the cream of the Eastern Conference crop (pipe down Rangers fans, this is as collective group). Gagne, whose left shoulder is back at 100 percent, is aimed at hockey's 40-40 mark. Roenick added bulk to better insulate himself from himself, and LeClair seems to have fixed his lower back problems . . . finally. Their bottom six aren't stellar -- whose in the East are? -- but Donald Brashear and Marty Murray at least give opponents something to think about.

Eastern Conference Position Ranking: 1st
Defensemen
Five serviceable NHLers -- two with better-than-average offensive skills (Eric Desjardins and Kim Johnsson) -- garner upper-half placement in the depth department, but they're not outstanding as a group.

Eastern Conference Position Ranking: T8th
Goalie
Roman Cechmanek's numbers say he's a top-flight goalie. But his unorthodox style and the special gift he has of alienating himself from his teammates make us skittish. (He had a "still friends?" sit-down with Ken Hitchcock and Keith Primeau during camp.) Robert Esche has been a .500 goalie when putting in more than just a game here and there.

Eastern Conference Position Ranking: T9th


Rankings: 5th Overall
Forwards | Defensemen | Goalies




RECORD: 42-27-10-3, 97 points
Rank:
7th overall
3rd East
1st Atlantic
Playoffs:
Lost to OTT in first round
Home: 20-13-5-3
Road: 22-14-5-0
2001-02 results
2001-02 statistics
2002-03 schedule
2002-03 roster
OFFENSE DEFENSE
GOALS FOR/AVG.
Overall:
234/2.85 (8th)
Home:
116/2.83 (11th)
Road:
118/2.88 (4th)
POWER PLAY
Overall:
13.0/39-300 (28th)
Home:
13.1/21-160 (26th)
Road:
12.9/18-140 (25th)
GOALS AGAINST/AVG.
Overall:
192/2.34 (7th)
Home:
100/2.44 (16th)
Road:
92/2.24 (3rd)
PENALTY KILL
Overall:
86.3/40-293 (5th)
Home:
88.7/15-133 (5th)
Road:
84.4/25-160 (13th)
STATS LEADERS
GOALS
Simon Gagne (33)
John LeClair (25)
Mark Recchi (22)
ASSISTS
Jeremy Roenick (46)
Recchi (42)
Gagne (33)
POINTS
Roenick (67)
Gagne (66)
Recchi (64)
PENALTY MINUTES
Todd Fedoruk (137)
Keith Primeau (128)
Chris McAllister (113)
PLUS/MINUS
Roenick (+33)
Gagne (+31)
Eric Weinrich (+26)
GAA (MIN. 20 GP)
Roman Cechmanek (2.05)
SAVE PERCENTAGE
Cechmanek (.921)
* - no longer with team