Thursday, May 8, 2008

Round 3: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers


So it comes down to two hated rivals in the east: the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. The aptly, but lamely named “Battle of Pennsylvania” is due to get underway tomorrow, and as I will be going I have to get this up tonight.

The forwards on the teams are an interesting mix. Pittsburgh is top heavy with skill on the scoring lines with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Hossa and Sykora while using various role players on their lower lines, in a way a stereotypical way to build the roster. The Flyers are a bit different. They don’t have the raw skills the Pens have but their forwards are pretty interchangeable. Someone like Knuble or Umberger, while not the most skilled, won’t be out of place on the first or third lines so if they start playing good or bad they can be moves around accordingly with little impact to a lines duty. Of course the Flyers aren’t without their own skill fielding the likes of Daniel “I look like I’m 12” Briere and Richards. Still, either Crosby or Malkin can takeover a game, and if you focus on one you leave the other open to dominate, something the Flyers can’t really do. But this one is very close.

Advantage: Penguins

Right after Mahatma posted his preview it was announced Timonen, easily Philadelphia’s best defenseman, will more than likely miss the rest of the playoffs due to blood clots in his foot. This is a major blow, but not a fatal one. Coburn gets better as time goes on and Smyth and Modry provide good leadership and playoff experience. And as much as his on ice play and feminine haircut is maligned at times, Hatcher isn’t as bad as some to make him out to be. The Pens have been synonymous with bad defense for years, and sadly this is the best squad they’ve fielded since their cup years. Gonchar doesn’t get enough credit nor does Orpik, and Gill has been…good since his acquisition (“good” and “Gill” in the same sentence is a bit of an oxymoron here in the hockey world). Alas the Pens are bogged down by coach Therrien favorites Ryan “hit him with your purse” Whitney and Robert “good god do I suck” Scuderi. One can’t play defense, the other cant do anything and both take regular shifts.

Advantage: Flyers

Both goalies have been having post season success. Fleury mans the pipes for the Penguins, constantly trying not to shit himself whenever Scuderi or Whitney are on the ice. He hasn’t had to come up big yet, but he has yet to falter at all playing as good as is needed. He has the skills to turn it up a notch, so if the Flyers pour it on he will have his real test. At the other end is Martin “I act tough when my team is surrounding me but run away like a girl when they’re not” Biron who is in his first post season. Like Fleury he hasn’t really had to face a whole lot. The Flyers shut down Ovechkin (meaning you shut down the Caps offense) and played against a Montreal team that looked like a fish out of water at times. Biron has never been one to really steal games, so if the Pens get the offense going he may not be able to cope.

Advantage: Penguins

As you probably know by now, I am a Pens fan. The Pens post season record is 8-1 and they have pretty much dominated both the Senators and Rangers: two teams they perennially do not play well against. The Flyers have played an average Capitals team that only made the playoffs because their division sucked, and a Montreal team whose goalie let in every other shot. And despite these things, I still have no faith the Penguins can win it. I am just expecting this team to lay an egg at the first chance, and them to get out coached when it boils down to strategy. You’d think I’d have more faith in this team, but I really don’t.

Flyers in 6

1 comment:

devo said...

Enjoy the game man. Fuck, enjoy the series, you people deserve it.