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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils – Preview

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”, and we can’t wait. As we did for the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, by the way they’re off golfing, we’ll list out keys to the series and follow them through from game to game. We hit the first series on the nose with the keys, as well as our prediction of the Flyers in 6 games. We plan to do as well in the series.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

 Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Stay Healthy – Just like the Pittsburgh series, this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James Van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating, they scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Prediction – If the Flyers accomplish these keys, especially continuing to pepper the 40 year old Brodeur with pucks, they’ll win the series in 5 games. If they allow the Devils to dictate the pace they could lose this series. We don’t expect that to happen. The Flyers have too many weapons, too much depth. They can match up Sean Couturier against Kovalchuk as they did against Evgeni Malkin. Couts showed he’s up to the challenge. Max Talbot brings stability any time he’s on the ice, regardless if he’s playing with the veterans or the rookies. The Giroux, Jagr, Scott Hartnell line will be solid. The Briere, Voracek, Wayne Simmonds line will also be good. Briere continues to up his game in the playoffs, as he always does. Rookies Brayden Shenn, Matt Read and Wellwood passed their first playoff tests with big contributions. As we stated earlier a healthy JVR is an advantage for the Flyers. Defensively, Coburn, Carle, Timonen, Lilja, Grossman and rookie Eric Gustaffson are solid. Gustaffson was a star in Game 6. Add Pavel Kubina for depth and the defense is solid.

As a result the Flyers are too strong and will win the series in 5 games!!!

 “GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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