Flyers Penguins 1st Round Preview
The Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1st round of the NHL playoffs, with Game 1 getting under way tonight in Pittsburgh. The Flyers lost out on home ice advantage in this series by losing in the season finale to the Rangers.
Unfortunately, much like football and the NFC East, I am not too happy that the Flyers play an Atlantic Division foe in the Penguins. Going into the playoffs, I would have rather played any other team in the playoffs than the Pens, Devils, and even the Rangers. The Flyers are 2-4 against the Penguins this season, with one loss coming in OT, and another coming in a shootout. These two teams also met up last season in the Eastern Conference final, with the Penguins winning the series and advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Ohhh yeah, and these two teams don’t like each other too much. Anytime you play a team as much as the Flyers and Penguins do throughout the season, and meet up in two consecutive playoff series’, there is going to be a good rivalry. These two teams have forged one of the better hockey rivalries as of late, with the cross-state teams both being among the elite in the Eastern Conference.
If the Flyers want to have any chance in advancing in these playoffs, and this series, they need to start playing better hockey than they have been down the stretch. The Flyers have been playing average hockey to end the season, while the Penguins have been playing very good hockey. The Flyers are just 3-4-1 in their last eight games. The offense hasn’t been poor for the most part, but the defense hasn’t been great, and Biron has been very inconsistent. All of that said, the Flyers still could have had home ice in this series had they just beaten/lost in OT to the Rangers in the last game of the regular season. They had a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period on home ice, and ended up losing the game in regulation. Good teams don’t let that happen. Teams that will go far into the playoffs don’t let that happen. I’m not saying the Flyers can’t do it, because I believe they can, but they will need to rebound quickly in order to even hang with the Penguins in this series. They will need to rely on their offense to do so. The Flyers offense is dangerous, with six 25 goal scorers in Carter, Richard, Gagne, Hartnell, Knuble, and Lupul. Throw a healthy Briere, and rookie Giroux in the mix, and the Flyers offense is among the best in the league. The defense, beyond Timonen, and Coburn is just average, and Biron will need to have another playoffs like last season for the Flyers to be successful.
The Penguins on the other hand have a record of 18-3-4 since February 15th, when Dan Bylsma became the interim head coach. Bylsma is obviously getting the most out of his players, because when he took over, the Penguins weren’t even in the playoff picture. No matter how the Penguins are playing, they are still an extremely scary team, as they feature two of the top three players in the world on their roster. Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby are a lethal combination. Malkin finished the season as the NHL scoring champion, compiling 113 points, which Crosby was 3rd with 103 points. Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins goalie, always seems to own the Flyers also no matter when or where they play.
No matter what the outcome, it will be an exciting series for the fans to watch. These two teams always play each other well, and like I stated before, have a great rivalry going on right now. The Flyers can make it even more fun to watch by winning the series and advancing. Even if the Flyers play well and lose the series, a first round loss is not what we are looking for out of this team. The Flyers are too good, and have too many good players, that a first round loss is considered a disappointment, especially considering where this team went last season in the playoffs. The Flyers are still a young team, but do have enough talent to win this series against the Penguins.
Mr. Green: Flyers in 6
Roget: Flyers in 6
Queen Aoleon: Flyers in 5