April 12, 2011

Philadelphia Flyers vs Buffalo Sabres - Philly on Top !!!

Philadelphia won the season series by going 2-1-1. The teams split the 4 games, but technically because of an extra point for an overtime loss. Combine that with the fact that the Flyers finished ahead of the Sabres by 10 points, and it should be clear that the Flyers are the clear favorites. So you would assume that Philly should have the advantage going into the series, however, that is not the case in my eyes. The Flyers started off the season series great; however, they lost both of the last 2 games against the Sabres towards the end of the year. It gets even worse for the Flyers though, because not only did they play poorly in the last 2 games vs the Sabres, they also played horrible against the rest of the league to finish off the year. The Flyers finished off the year by going 8-8-7 in the last 23 games of the season. If you think about it that means they lost 15 out of 23 games!! 8 wins in 23 games is completely unacceptable for a team that finished 1 point behind 1st place in the Eastern conference.  What makes this series even more interesting is that while the Flyers were dropping games, the Sabres did the complete opposite. The Buffalo Sabres since Pegula took over, have been unstoppable. In fact they ended the year, on a 28-11-6 run, including points in 20 of the last 24 games!!!

These 2 teams are definitely heading in different directions. The Sabres have been on fire lately, in large part due to Thomas Vanek. Fresh off winning 1st star of the week, after 2 incredible performances in 2 clutch games, first getting a hat trick, and then 2 assists and the game-winner the next game. Vanek has had a tremendous year, 32 G’s, 73 Pts. He also had 7 points in the 4 games vs the Flyers.  He has been the driving force for this team offensively, and shows no signs of slowing down. The other key reason why Buffalo could upset in this series is Ryan Miller. Miller is the x-factor in this series, and any game he could steal a game or two vs Philly. Philadelphia will need to put a lot of bodies in front of Miller if they want to beat him.  
However, despite all of that, I still think Philadelphia’s offensive depth is just too strong. If they could get any sort of goaltending, I think the combination of Richards, Carter, Giroux, Briere, Pronger and company, will be enough to advance the Flyers. But goaltending is always important, you can’t underestimate it. I think if there will be any upset in the East in the 1st round, it will be this one. But I still have to go with Philly, playoffs are a different game, and they are built for it!
Flyers in 7.
- Grant Robinson

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