Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pens/Flyers: Eastern Conference Preview Thats Really Long

The major storyline for this series is the notion that the Flyers seem to think the Penguins tanked their final game so they could avoid the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs. I mean obviously, the big skating pumpkins are truly an intimidating force just ask Gary Roberts, Penguin winger, on this. "It can't be expressed, the fear we feel."

The Flyers are now pulling the “No Respect” card that the Pens, media, etc. don’t respect them but okay if a team “tanks” so they don’t have to play you isn’t that respectful? You can’t have it both ways you morons. Anyway, I gotta say the whole “No Respect” card is so clich├ęd these days in all of sports. I mean seriously how many people are like wah they don’t respect me etc. I mean look it could work in Football but in hockey with a bunch of hosers and euro trash? Get real. Can we get some new motivational techniques, Coaches? Perhaps they should employ Matt Walsh?


Forwards:

Last series, I again predicted the Penguins to lose but that’s only because the obvious depth and talent of the Rangers were no where to be seen throughout the series. The Penguins were able to get far more contribution from some of their secondary sources. The Penguins again face a similar situation in the Flyers. The Flyers roll out 3 scoring lines with their leading scorer during the season “relegated” to 3rd line duty. That’s scary depth. Add to that with a healthy and annoying, Daniel Briere and Pittsburgh native, RJ Umberger who plays his best hockey against the Pens spells a lot of trouble for an average defense. Penguins own a much better 4th line but that doesn’t matter where both lines will see less than 10 minutes of total ice time. Look media types will say that the Pens are loaded etc but in reality they are top heavy. Flyers don’t have the talent of Malkin, Crosby and Hossa but they bring more rifles to the war.

Edge: Flyers


Defense:

The Penguins were somehow able to stave off the Ranger attack while looking somewhat decent in the process. This is because the Rangers obviously can’t score as some Flyer faithful have pointed out. Sure, who cares that they scored at will on one of the best defensive teams in the decade, they can’t score. Flyers were able to do the same against one of the highest scoring teams in the league, the Canadians. They got lucky to the tune of 8 posts/crossbars in the series but they still won. On paper, the Flyers have really good depth all around led by the top pairing of Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timmonen. These two have shutdown Ovechkin and Kovalev the past two series. Can they do the same to Malkin? Old timers Jason Smith and Derian Hatcher provided physical play albeit at snail-like skating ability and Lasse Kukkonen and Randy Jones have upped their game in the playoffs.

The Pens have got solid play out of their group. Gonchar has played above average while Brooks Orpik, Hall Gill and rook, Kris Letang have brought their games up a notch. The Penguins are still using Ryan “BU’s finest purse swinger” Whitney everyday so the edge automatically goes to Philly. Add to that Robert Suckderi whose lone skill is that he tries hard indicates that Penguins have a distinct disadvantage in this. Until these jokers are scratched then the Flyers and every other team will have the advantage.

Edge: Flyers


Goaltending:

Marty Biron was able to hold off the Canadians with not only skill but some luck but the Penguins are an entirely different animal; fresh off of knocking out the best goaltender in the game. It should be an interesting matchup to say the least.

Eventually, a hot streak runs out and the Pens have the weapons to do that. Furthermore, the Penguins have had some luck with Biron in the past including chasing him in a 7-1 win in March and I see that continuing this series. You can give an asshole a haircut and a new tie but he is still an asshole. Fleury hasn’t been great but he has made the big stops when needed. Nothing dominating yet and there will likely be a time he needs to rise up and steal a series for the Penguins just as Biron as for the Canadiens. Fleury also seems to shrug off bad goals with a calm and cool swagger and he’s also added the ability to “cup check” – something that will be very useful with the Flyers involved.

Edge: Penguins


Coaching:

One of those herpes vs. gonorrhea parallels here. Therrien is still a stubborn, ego - driven, motivational guy while Stevens tries to do some good things but somehow is still hated by Flyers fans all around. I don’t get it.? Sure every coach hears it from backseat coaches on line changes, matchups and scratches but the book was out on the Flyers after the all star break: this team was a one trick pony -- counterattack, line rush, PP -- that was easily defeated if teams adopted some specific measures them. Second half of the season teams played passive and the likes of the Rags, Habs, Devils and Pens beat on the Flyers. Stevens failed to adjust. He also has shown a propensity to sit on leads. Sure you can blame the players but the coach dictates the system. Regardless, Stevens has done enough to save his job but Therrien has shown to learn from previous mistakes against the Rags and the Sens and shockingly gets the edge here.

Edge: Penguins


Intangibles:

Flyers are undefeated against the Penguins in the playoffs. The Penguins were undefeated against the Rangers in the playoffs and look what happened there. See a pattern peoples? Both teams also have hot goaltenders which is a prerequisite for teams going to the Stanley Cup. Flyers won the season series but so did Ottawa and the Rangers and they got beat too. When in doubt, Flyers fans will point to the bias officiating and the stinky diving of Cindy Crysby. And so will I because it’s not like little girl on skates, Daniela Briere, doesn’t dive.

Edge: Even


Prediction:

So everyone is betting the house (farm, condo, co-op, shack, time share) on the Penguins. Sure the Flyers can talk about No Respect but I’m going to say Too much Respect for the Penguins. The Penguins score some awesome goals and all but come on, does the showstopping offense win championships? Hell no. Just look at our chowda-headed, incest-loving 3rd cousins to the North. While the media was jerking off to Brady and Moss, the Giants were devising schemes. Chicks may dig the goal but the stick check is still the best play in hockey. Not to mention the refs are in the Penguins back pocket so because the Rags and Rag fans cried murder, the refs will now stick it to the Penguins at every possible moment just to show them they aren’t biased. Flyers also have an elite powerplay so that can only spell doom if the Pens spend an excessive amount of time in the penalty box. I don’t like this matchup at all. The Pens should win but I don’t know.

When in situations like this, with the vast demand of SUS nation bearing down on my shoulders, I turn to Man’s better half: females who know nothing about hockey. After undergoing a careful screening process of being on AIM or random token coworker passing by, I got 7 of them in total to represent the potential 7 games and ask them point blank, Penguins or Flyers.

4 picked the Penguins and 3 picked the Flyers.


Penguins in 7

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