Much like the Vancouver/Chicago opening round series was an instant classic, this Pens/Flyers series looks to be the 2012 equivalent. Traditional rivalry aside, these geographic foes have had heated matches all year, culminating with the late-game scrums and trash talk post-game about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being dirty and the Penguins being arrogant whiners.
It’s a familiar refrain that the Vancouver Canucks had to hear a lot of last year. Some are saying the Flyers are just scared of the Penguins’ talent upon the return of Sidney Crosby, but the Flyers are better than that.
Despite the Penguins intimidating offensive game, and Stanley Cup pedigree from a few seasons ago, the Flyers have the depth, physicality, and offensive flair to give them a run for their money. Claude Giroux, Danny Briene, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell will be a handful.
While Ilya Bryzgalov found his game late in the season, there will be question marks about his ability to shutdown superstars like Crosby and Malkin. However, a hidden storyline is the horrible statistics that Marc-Andre Fleury has against the Flyers – the worst against any NHL team.
This series will steal most headlines in the opening round and rightfully so. Home ice may mean a lot here.
· Will the officials protect Crosby and Malkin (and Giroux/Briere) adequately?
· Can Ilya Bryzgalov deliver when it matters?
· Will the Flyers miss Chris Pronger?
Top Scorers to Draft
PIT – Sidney Crosby
PIT – Evgeni Malkin
PIT – James Neal
PHI – Claude Giroux
PHI – Scott Hartnell
PHI – Jaromir Jagr
The Penguins have the proven goaltender and two game breakers. Philadelphia will give them all they can handle, but it’s not enough to go against the Penguins this time around. Penguins in 7.
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