Claude Giroux's climb toward stardom, Mike Richards' steadiness, and the blossoming of Sergei Bobrovsky and Andreas Nodl have been among the Flyers' main story lines in the season's first two months.
But no one is having a better season than veteran center Danny Briere.
Generously listed at 5-foot-10, Briere has keyed the Flyers' 17-7-4 start with a team-high 14 goals, including game-winners in the last two contests.
Briere, who is on a 41-goal pace despite missing three games because of a league-mandated suspension, entered Tuesday as the NHL's fifth-leading goal-scorer.
"It's a little early and I don't want to get ahead of myself," Briere said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees.
While coach Peter Laviolette has made numerous line adjustments to find the right combinations, the Briere unit, with wingers Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino, has remained a constant.
"Playing with those two guys, it just seems every night I have the feeling I'm going to get some good opportunities to score and I have to be ready to bury them when they come," said Briere, whose career high is 32 goals, scored for Phoenix in 2001-02 and for Buffalo in 2006-07. "That's the mind-set I'm going in with each game, almost every shift. It's a lot of fun."
The line blossomed when put together in last season's playoffs, as Briere set a franchise record with 30 postseason points. The unit got off to a relatively slow start this season because Leino was recovering from hip surgery, but it has been its productive self for most of the season. (Leino missed Tuesday's practice because of cramps and a slight fever, but he is expected to play Wednesday against visiting San Jose.)
"We hung on to that line because we believed, and still believe, they are capable of doing a lot of damage on any given night," Laviolette said.
Briere spent most of last season as a winger, but he has flourished since moving back to center, his natural position.
"I think it has to do with coming to the rink and believing you're in a place where you belong," Laviolette said of Briere's hot start. "He's back in the middle, and he's counted on for a lot of different things - and I think he's really comfortable with that."
After signing an eight-year, $52 million free-agent contract, Briere had an up-and-down first season with the Flyers in 2007-08. He had 31 goals and 72 points but managed just two goals while the Flyers collapsed in February. Briere finished the season at minus-22 and heard his share of boos.
"Everybody has to adapt," Briere said. "I came from a different system in Buffalo, where it was go-go-go. Very offensive and very aggressive on the forecheck. And [I came] to a system with John Stevens where it was a lot more passive. Trapping. I just was never able to find chemistry with anybody, and it was frustrating at times.
"Last year was starting to get a little better. I played the wing, so it was a little different, and that was an adjustment as well. But once the playoffs rolled around, our line started clicking. It's a lot more fun coming to the rink every day and you have the feeling something good is going to happen with your line every time you jump on the ice. It's a lot more exciting and a lot easier to prepare for a game."
Finding chemistry with his linemates, getting past some off-ice personal issues, and moving back to a familiar position have all played a part in Briere's resurgence. At 33, he is comfortable with himself, comfortable with his game, and appears headed to the best year of an NHL career that has touched parts of 13 seasons.