After what was looking to be a year without hockey, we found ourselves at the quarter-mark of the 2013 NHL season.
It's already been a fun-filled first three weeks of hockey. Perennial giants are struggling, some super stars are still in search of their scoring touch and even the Chicago Blackhawks have managed to play their first 11 games without a regulation loss.
12 games into the 48-game shortened season, the Flyers find themselves with a 5-6-1 record and 11 points, good for third place in the Atlantic Division.
At that point, they sit behind the first place Devils (7-1-3; 17 points) and second place Penguins (8-4-0; 16 points). It could be much worse, especially since the Flyers were at one point 2-6-0 to start the season.
(Pictured: Ilya Bryzgalov and Zac Rinaldo after the Flyers won, 4-3, in overtime on Saturday. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Saturday night against Carolina, the Flyers dressed Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann, Kurtis Foster, and Bruno Gervais as their defense.
All six shared one thing in common -- not a single one of them were drafted by the Flyers.
In fact, the Flyers have a consistent issue with things like that. Since the lost season of 2004-05, the Flyers have not gotten more than 150 games played from a defensemen they drafted and only one home grown defensemen has played more than 200 games in a Flyers uniform since that time, Randy Jones, an undrafted defender.
(Pictured: Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The Flyers have brought back a familiar face to their organization.
Grizzled veteran Mike Knuble, who turned 40 last July, agreed to a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Flyers. It has been four years since Knuble was last a Flyer, and he will look to continue his long career back in Philadelphia.
Knuble's signing came as a result of losing Scott Hartnell for most of the season. Hartnell broke his foot on Tuesday and will miss 4-8 weeks according to general manager Paul Holmgren.
(Photo: Mike Knuble playing for Washington in 2011. Photo by Kevin Dietsch)
The Flyers have gone into full disappearing mode, and the epidemic has spread to the team's leader.
Before the season started, Claude Giroux was slated to be ready to lead the Flyers, getting endorsements from half the veterans on the team. But in the third game of a young but short season, the captain was completely absent from the game, leaving people wondering what happened to Giroux.
In the Flyers 3-0 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday, Giroux's poor play rubbed off on the rest of the team, including two of the Flyers' young, budding forwards Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.
The Buffalo Sabres will open their 2013 campaign against the Philadelphia Flyers, who come to town after a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Can the Flyers spoil the Sabres' party like the Penguins did to theirs?
The first five games will be the most important for rookie forward Scott Laughton.
The 18-year-old center made his NHL debut in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Penguins. For the 12 minutes he was out there, Laughton tried to prove why the Flyers selected him with the 20th pick last year.
Laughton was physical and agressive in his debut.
"I thought he played well," said Flyers alternate captain Scott Hartnell. "He was moving his feet, he was finishing his checks, he’s very sound defensively."
The NHL is back, and there is no better way to celebrate the return of hockey in Pennsylvania than to have its two bitter rivals battle in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel to Philadelphia for a 3PM show down at the Wells Fargo Center. The arena will be filled to capacity with nearly 20,000 orange-and-black-clad Flyers fans, with a little yellow sprinkled in the mix.