Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: #4 Penguins vs #5 Flyers


 

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins (51-25-6, 108 points) vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers (47-26-9, 103 points)

Season Series: Pittsburgh 2-3-1, Philadelphia 4-2-0

Series Schedule:

Game 1: 4/11 PHI @ PIT 6:30 PM

Game 2: 4/13 PHI @ PIT 6:30 PM

Game 3:  4/15 PIT @ PHI 2 PM

Game 4: 4/18 PIT @ PHI 6:30 PM

Game 5*: 4/20 PHI @ PIT 6:30 PM

Game 6*: 4/22 PIT @ PHI 2 PM

Game 7*: 4/24 PHI @ PIT 6:30 PM

*if necessary 

 

Pittsburgh

The Penguins have endured so many injuries this year and still managed 108 points this season.  That is a pretty remarkable feat considering all the star power that spent time on the injury list this year.  Head coach Dan Blysma continues to prove that he is one of the league’s best behind the bench.  The Penguins can not have the power play fail them like it did last year versus Tampa Bay.  Pittsburgh boasts one of the top power plays in the NHL, converting at a 19.7% clip.  James Neal lead the entire league in power play goals with 18. The Pens have the 3rd best penalty kill as they killed off 87.8% of their penalties this year.  Their PK will be a great matchup with Philly’s power play who converted an identical 19.7% of their penalties.  Staying out of the box will be key for both sides, but that will be hard to do considering the hatred between these two rivals.

 

Leading Scorer: Evgeni Malkin 50 goals, 59 assists, 109 points

Backstop: Marc-Andre Fleury  42-17-4, 2.36 goals against average, .913 save %

Ex-Blackhawks Factor: Craig Adams, Steve Sullivan

Difference Maker: There is no doubt Sidney Crosby will be the difference maker this year for the playoffs.  Yes, they do have Malkin, who should win the Hart this year but the addition of Crosby makes the Pens deadly.  Crosby put up 37 poitns (8 G, 29 A) in just 22 games this year.  He has 82 points (30 G, 52 A) in 62 career playoff games.

 

Philadelphia

The Flyers are going to come out swinging at the Pens.  For all the star power Pittsburgh has the Flyers can match it.  In a great story line, Jaromir Jagr will be taking on the team which he won 2 Stanley Cups for 20 years ago.  He has proven that he can still play at a top level and was a great low risk, high reward pickup for Philly.  Claude Giroux has proven he can make anyone around him good as he helped Scott Hartnell score an astonishing 37 goals this year.  The Flyers are going to try a dictate the physical play in this series.  If high priced goalie Ilya Bryzgalov can continue his stellar play and shake the demons of past playoff failures the Flyers have a really good shot in this one.

 

Leading Scorer: Claude Giroux 28 goals, 65 assists, 93 points

Backstop: Ilya Bryzgalov 33-16-7 2.48 goals against average, .909 save %

Ex-Blackhawks Factor: No ex-Hawks

Difference Maker: Wayne Simmonds is coming off a career year where he had 49 points (21 G, 28 A) and scored 11 goals on the power play.  He is a big, physical player that will have no problem picking up his game for the post season.  Simmonds can cause havoc in the crease and will cause a serious match up problem for the Flyers.

 

My Prediction: Penguins in 7.  I think the Penguins’ stars will beat out the Flyers’ stars in the end.  If I got a game 7 to win I will take Fleury over Bryzgalov every time.  This will be a fun one to watch, especially since I have no rooting interest whatsoever.

 

Tags: Claude Giroux Dan Blysma Evgeni Malkin Ilya Bryzgalov James Neal Jaromir Jagr Marc-Andre Fleury Philadelphia Flyers Pittsburgh Penguins Scott Hartnell Sidney Crosby Wayne Simmonds

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