Remember when the Philadelphia Flyers were losers of ten consecutive games and sitting in the basement of the Metropolitan Division? That ugly memory can be thrown right into the trash because the orange and black are heading to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs!
The Flyers secured their position in the postseason this past Saturday afternoon with a decisive 5-0 victory against the lowly New York Rangers. Later that same day, losses by the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets bumped Philadelphia up to third place in the division, cementing a first-round showdown between their in-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The postseason edition of “The Battle of Pennsylvania” is not new. These familiar foes will be playing playoff hockey against one another for the seventh time. So far, the Flyers hold the advantage, going 4-2 all-time in the six previous series. The most recent meeting between the Flyers and Penguins in the playoffs was in 2012 when Philadelphia won the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals in six games. Wednesday will mark the third consecutive occasion where these two teams will meet in the first round.
Unfortunately for the City of Brotherly Love, they will be facing the team everyone else did their best to avoid. It’s not new knowledge that the Penguins are in the running for their third-consecutive Stanley Cup Championship and their chances seem to at least be on the side of realistic. The star-studded roster is filled with firepower that will be challenging to contain. Philadelphia knows all too well how dominant Pittsburgh can be, suffering defeats in all four regular-season meetings this season.
The Flyers will have to be at their sharpest for every game. Any careless mistake or a prolonged period of “lifeless” play will come back and bite Philly in the rear-end. Everyone knows that Claude Giroux is going to go into this series ready to put his team on his back, similar to what he did against the Rangers on Saturday, posting a hat-trick. It can also be argued that Philadelphia has the offense to put up some points against their opponent. The defense has its obvious issues that will be a cause for concern for all of Flyers Nation. However, the biggest determining factor to whether the Flyers can pull off an upset against their rivals lies between the pipes. If Philadelphia can get strong netminding from Brian Elliott, who I’m assuming will be the starting netminder going into the series, anything can happen. Still, that “if” is a big one. Similar to the entirety of the Flyers season, consistency in net has been a challenge. The orange and black need Elliott to be on his game, which has been quite dominant at times.
No matter what the outcome of this series is, there is one thing spectators are guaranteed to witness. Every game will be engulfed with a maximum amount of intensity. These two franchises absolutely hate one another, and neither of them is afraid to show it. When the teams line up to shake hands in the end, you can bet your bottom dollar that everything each player has will be left out on the frozen surface.
Wednesday, April 11 7 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
Friday, April 13 7 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
Sunday, April 15 3 p.m. Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
Wednesday, April 18 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
*Friday, April 20 TBD Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
*Sunday, April 22 TBD Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
*Tuesday, April 24 TBD Philadelphia at Pittsburgh