April 30, 2011

Philly is Ready To Ride !!!!

The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers came within two wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1975. They were beaten by a strong, talented Chicago Blackhawks team led by the trio of Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews. Flyers faithful all over the country are hoping for those last two wins this season. However, doubts have risen amongst Flyers fans. Will another year of goalie shenanigans, the trade of Simon Gagne, and the limited playing time of Chris Pronger eventually end the team’s playoff steak, or will they be drinking champagne out of the Cup come June?

On Tuesday the Flyers finished off the Buffalo Sabres with a dominant, offensively strong win. There were times throughout game 7 when the Flyers looked like a team on a one way street to the Stanley Cup Finals. With the Bruins finishing off the Canadians, we will see a rematch of last year’s unforgettable Eastern Conference semi-finals. There are big differences between the Flyers and Bruins this season. The Flyers, a balanced, deep team focuses on aggressive fore-checking and solid team defense. However, consistency in net could be a problem for the Broad Street Bullies. The Bruins on the other hand have a world class goaltender in Tim Thomas, but not much more than that. Chara is an overrated, soft defenseman, who supposedly “leads” the team. Offensively, they’re about as boring as a weekend trip to the grocery store. In my opinion the Bruins are soft, untalented and HIGHLY overrated. Watch for Philly to ride their momentum through Boston, and into the Eastern Conference finals. Flyers win the series in five.

From there the Flyers would face the winner of the Washington/Tampa Bay series. Both of these teams would test the Flyers. Washington is just as deep as the Flyers, however they also have questions about their netminder. The other possible matchup in the Eastern Conference finals is Tampa Bay, one of the most underrated teams in the playoffs. They have an amazing power play unit, and an experienced goalie in Dwayne Roloson.  Defensively the Bolts are just too undermanned; Capitals win the series in 6.

The Flyers have to focus on playing physically, while staying out of the penalty box. If they can do this and their power play continues to produce like it did against Buffalo, the Flyers will be a tough matchup for any team remaining. However, Brian Boucher will have to be consistently at the top of his game for Philadelphia to make a run for the cup. Anything short of a strong performance from “Boush” and the Flyers will fall short. There are eight teams remaining, can the Orange and White rise again this year and fight through the Eastern Conference into June? Beginning Saturday at 3:00pm Eastern Time we’ll begin to get a sense of just how far they will go. Get up Philly!

- Matt Gamelin

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