Today feels a lot like 2012, doesn’t it?
The Flyers and Penguins square up in the playoffs for the first time in six years today. The Penguins come into this series having surged in the second half of the season, grabbing the second seed in the Metro division. The Flyers come into this series stumbling a bit but still one of the better teams in the Metro division.
Regardless of standings, this series should be hard fought, gritty, and grueling. Our writers take a look at the series and give their picks for who will come out on top.
With the way the Flyers have played this season, I feel predicting this series is truly hit-or-miss.
If we see the inspired Flyers team that won four of their last five regular-season games and went on a six-game winning streak in February, I think they could very well take this series. If we see the lifeless and disinterested Flyers team that lost 10 straight games in November, this series could be over very quickly.
Claude Giroux is playing at another level right now and I’m itching to see what he brings to this postseason. The Penguins just have too much depth behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and I don’t think the Flyers can match it. It also doesn’t help the Penguins have taken all four meetings this season. Brian Elliott is fresh off injury and looked real shaky in last year’s playoffs against the Oilers, so goaltending could be an issue.
The Flyers have been so streaky that I’m playing it safe with my prediction. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the Flyers catch fire in Game 1 and ride that momentum to a series victory.
Penguins in 5
I think this series will come down to special teams, specifically how many penalty kill situations the Flyers get themselves into. The Penguins have a power play that is unmatched in the NHL, and if they see too much time on the ice, they will escape with a win, flat out. The Flyers have to be a disciplined team. That might come easier than expected, the Flyers were a relatively docile team this season when it came to penalties.
The other wild card here is goaltending. If Brian Elliott returns to mid-season form, the Flyers could very well dethrone the reigning champions.
As things stand right now, I think the Penguins bottom six will provide them with a boost that the Flyers can’t match.
Penguins in 6
The Flyers really could not have drawn a worse opponent to face-off against in round one. The Penguins have had Philadelphia’s number all season long, winning all four contests, and it’s hard to picture this series going much differently. Of course, crazier things have occurred.
If Brian Elliott gets hot and can prevent the star-power of Pittsburgh from lighting up the scoresheet, the hockey world could be stunned in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, it’s hard to bet against the Penguins in a seven-game series, especially a team that has struggled to be consistent, such as the Flyers.
As much as it pains me to say this, I predict that Pittsburgh will move on to round two.
Pittsburgh in 6
Regular season matchups are usually tossed out the window when playoff time rolls around, hopefully we get to see a hard fought series and get the rivalry resurrected. It’ll be interesting to see how (or if) the Flyers are going to contain a powerhouse Pittsburgh offense.
Philadelphia in 7
It’s going to be tough and it is a uphill battle but the Flyers have enough firepower to stop a Penguins team whose defense is questionable and a goalie who has been average this season. Flyers will need Giroux, Couturier, Voracek to continue to lead the way upfront and Gostisbehere and Provorov to carry a heavy load to say the least on the back end.
Philadelphia in 7