In my last post I was talking about a buzz in the city post Super Bowl 52. I wasn’t sure if we would ever lose another game, and since then we have had two of our big four sports teams clinch playoff spots, and Villanova won the National championship. If you think this is business as usual in the city of Philadelphia then you need to wake up and smell the playoff tulips.
(Photo courtesy of www.phillyvoice.com)
The Philadelphia Flyers are first to accept the baton from Villanova’s dominant March run, and they hand they have been dealt is, lets just say the road will not be easy. This is a rivalry that is older than hockey, this is homegrown hatred right here the battle for the soul of our very own Keystone state, this is Pittsburgh versus Philadelphia. The big city vs. the once great steel city, now just a hub for alcohol abuse, poorly cooked chicken wings, and a hockey team lead by Tinker Bell’s pre-pubescent love child, yup Sidney Crosby. Penguins v Flyers is more than a playoff series, it more than a storied rivalry, this is a battle for pride in the east, and amongst two cities that will never stop fighting to be the sports team that Harrisburg should be fans of.
Philadelphia has something special going these days, and ill be damned if that damn black and yellow city of fools is going to be the one to end it. So without further delay, here is my preview of the series that will kick off this 2018 Playoffs for Lord Stanley’s Cup!
Forwards: Everyone knows about the big three for the Pens: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. These guys score a lot, and they make everyone on the ice better around them, but here’s something you might not know about one of the three stars wearing black and gold. Phil Kessel’s sister is better than him…seriously the dude gets his ass beat on the ice constantly by his little sister who has a gold medal, and has NEVER lost an NHL game. Neither are claims Phil can make I think it pretty clear who has the edge there, and we don’t have one guy on our team that has a sister better than them. This is a pretty huge edge the flyer need to exploit.
In all honesty this is a deadly attack, and if they get power play opportunity they will capitalize, so there’s the key to riding out the storm, stay out of the box!
Defense: While their defense can absolutely struggle to clear the crease and force turnovers, they are very good at making passes to those dangerous forwards. Best way to nullify that is a good forecheck, and constant offensive pressure. Kris Letang & Justin Schultz have been longtime thorns in the side of flyers fans, but this series they fall!
Goalie: Matthew Murray is a very inconsistent goaltender that has the bad game ability the flyers need to take advantage of, but here’s the problem. Hes one of those guys that just finds another level after the regular season, and the kid can be as lights out as anyone come playoff time, if the flyers want to get it passed him they will have to shoot the puck as much as possible, cannot be waiting for the perfect pass, because this guy can save it.
The flyers have been hit by a bolt of lightning in the form of two young spry skaters. Nolan Patrick, and Travis Konechny have been absolute dynamos this year and they are only getting better. They didn’t put up the number you will see from Malkin and Kessel, but one day they will. They are part of the future of this league, and just like their captain I think they are about to have their breakout moments in their first playoff appearance. And speaking of the captain! If it wasn’t for wonder boy Connor Mcdavid in Edmunton I would say hes a lock for the Hart Trophy. Over 100 points for the first time in his career he lead this team in everything from heart, goals, assists, and attitude. There was a little whisper in Philadelphia about him not being the leader he needs to be, well he shut that shit down with an iron fist this year, and if he plays the way he usually does in the playoffs the flyers have every reason to believe they can win this series.
The Flyers have two of the best young defensemen in the league and that is not the opinion of a bias Philly fan this is league recognized talent. Ivan Proverov has the best Defensive instincts I have ever seen on a 21 year old in his second year, he is a force to be reckoned with, and he will push anyone off the puck in any situation. Shayne Gostisbere may as well be a forward the way he rips pucks at the net, and as he grows on the defensive side of the puck he is becoming the new standard for offensive Blue liners in the league. Unfortunately the buck kind of stops there. Depth is an issue in our Defensive pairings and will be a problem against the Pens fire power.
All signs point to Brian Elliot as of now. The coach hasn’t tipped his hand yet, but the free agent signing from the off season who came over from the blues has had serious spirits of genius in net this season. Unfortunately a lengthy injury in the middle of the year threw off that momentum, and his return to the ice didn’t go as well as he had hoped. The potential is there, he just has to get hot fast and stay that way.
I think this series goes 6 games, and in the end the determining factor is whether or not the flyers can clear their own zone when they have leads, and control the puck in the offensive zone. Staying out of the box is important, but scoring goals, and commanding the flow of this series is more important. If they steal one from Pittsburgh in the first two games, I think the flyer win the series!
This city is alive, and anything can happen. The Eagles proved that. Lets earn, lets unite or die!