No Heart in "Filth"adelphia
Yep, that’s right. The “City of Brotherly Love” is anything but, when it comes to NHL hockey. One of the longest anti-social rivalries between teams in the modern NHL, this series is going to have it all: goals, goaltending, grit, fights and fan-smack.
Considering the Flyer’s ‘theme’ for this year has been “Vengeance,” paraded around town with gigantic bilboards of Riley Cote and his raised fists, it appears to all that the Broad Street Bullies never really left.
So Friday at 7:30 we’ve got Game One of the Intrastate Beatdown. Let’s look more in-depth at what the Flyers are going to have to face – and what the Pens have to look forward to, after the jump.
One-two punch: You cannot deny the power duo of Crosby and Malkin, especially since they’re usually on two different lines. Malkin caught fire during the Rangers series, knocking out seven points in five games (including two game-winning goals). Sid had three two-assist nights as well but more importantly, didn’t get derailed when the Rangers and their fans tried (unsuccessfully) to get under his skin. Crosby’s blue-collar approach to the game keeps the Pens grounded.
The most telling stat, though? Malkin and Crosby have a combined total of 28 points in only nine games. The Flyers are going to have to cycle Coburn and Timonen a LOT against both of these lines just to have a chance at shutting them down.
Fleury fire: Leading the NHL with a .938 save percentage, his 1.76 GAA is third in the playoffs (behind the Stars’ Turco and the Wings’ Osgood) and has been phenomenal in the clutch moments. While Biron has been equally impressive in his playoff debut, he’ll have to face the constant pressure of the Penguin forwards – and at some point, that rookie luck will crack wide open.
Power play: The Pens have scored at least one power play goal in every playoff game; this trend won’t stop. As long as the Flyers keep generating penalties (they’re the most penalized team in the playoffs thus far with 57 whistles in 12 games), they’ll give the Pens scoring chances. And if the Pens fight back and get sent to the box? Well, remember, they killed 22 of 25 opportunities against the Rangers. Winning the special teams battles is a key to this series, and one the Penguins have a solid grip on.
Flying Flyers: Unarguably, Daniel Briere is on fire. And so is Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger, having stepped up in the Montreal series. But where the Flyers have just one top-flight scorer, the Penguins have two. Support-wise, the Pens edge the Flyers, giving more opportunities for scoring chances if the defensive pressure shuts down Crosby or Malkin. Who’s going to step up for the Flyers if Orpik and Gill shut down Briere?
I’ll be honest, I’ve been looking forward to this matchup since the end of the regular season. Penguins-Flyers playoff hockey is always a guaranteed good game (followed closely by the Penguins-Capitals games of yore) and this series promises to maintain that wonderful Pennsylvania tradition.
Penguins in six.
Now excuse me while I find my old ‘DVE CD that has the classic tune of “We’ll Kick Yer Arse…” A classic made new!