* Will the defense hold up? Including Hal Gill, the Flyers have one of the oldest defense corps in the NHL, with an average age of 30.1. Three of the eight (Gill, Mark Streit, Kimmo Timonen) are 35 or older. More important, Andrej Meszaros (27) and Nick Grossmann (28) have bodies that have held up like 40-year-olds over the last two seasons. If they can all stay on the ice, it's possible the Flyers could be in for a better season than most predict.

* Can they get off to a good start? Not only would a solid start relieve some of the tension surrounding the front office and coaching staff, but it would mean taking advantage of an easy schedule. The Flyers play eight out of their first 12 at home and their farthest flight among the four is 1 hour long. Plus, October is not a grueling month with 11 games, compared with November (15), December (14), January (15) and March (14).

* Will Ray Emery or Steve Mason take the reins? The Flyers are hoping one member of this tandem will distinguish himself as "the man." The smart money would be on Ray Emery to do so, coming off a 17-1-3 season with the Blackhawks. Still, the Flyers are incredibly confident in Steve Mason's ability to resurrect his career, even after a preseason with shaky statistics.

* Do the Flyers have enough scoring depth? Only two seasons ago, the Flyers had a league-high 12 players with at least 10 goals on their roster. Eight of those players are still here. It seemed as if some sort of chemistry was missing last season. Is it more than that? Michael Raffl and Chris Vande Velde failed to win a roster spot and it seems as if the Flyers still have a visible scoring hole on a wing or two.

* Which direction will the young players go? It seems to be a make-or-break year for young players such as Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and even Matt Read. Both Read and Couturier received contract extensions in the offseason, but they still have a lot to prove after taking a step back last season. Read, 27, who signed a $14.5 million extension last week, needs to get back to his 24-goal rookie pace to make the money worth it.

- Frank Seravalli