Welcome to Center Ice Chat’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview and Predictions series. With Round 1 in the books as of Thursday night, we take a look at the crop of the few, the proud, the Conference semifinalists.
So the Philadelphia Flyers may be the hottest team going into Round 2, arguably.
Do they still have what it takes to sail to the Eastern Conference Finals? Or will their own physical play eventually drag themselves down?
The New Jersey Devils certainly can take advantage of a few weak lapses, but it’ll be a stretch. With Game 2 on the card for tomorrow night, and Game 1 ending in a close 4-3 advantage for the Flyers, anything certainly still can happen.
However, let’s be honest. The Flyers truly have the upper hand in this series.
As for Ilya Bryzgalov, he may not be the answer. But if Philadelphia, who has had a weak penalty kill, and ranks second among most goals allowed with 4.14, can keep the shooting prowess going, then there’s little doubt that they’ll breeze by New Jersey.
As for the Devils, they don’t have an amounting list of talent or keys that will be a challenge for Philadelphia. But if Martin Brodeur can be relevant again, as he was years ago, then maybe he can put the clamp down on the Flyers’ offense.
And they’ll need to be disciplined, too. Because when it comes to five-on-five, that’s where they exceed, and where the Flyers fall short, evidently.
For goals for/against on even strength, the Devils rank best with a 1.67 + difference in scoring while the Flyers are 11th of 16 playoffs teams with a 0.88 scoring differential on the even strength.
Ultimately, this series will be decided defense, as backwards as it sounds, given the Flyers’ scoring abilities during the playoffs. But that’s the Devils’ only chance to win. And, in return, the Flyers’ defense hasn’t been the greatest, so there’s certainly room for the Devils to capitalize offensively.
Final prediction: Flyers in 4 games
As much as I’d like to see the Devils give the Flyers a good run, there’s too much going for Philadelphia and not enough for New Jersey. The Flyers, even when the defense is lacking, have been able to offset that with the scoring touch. And although it may not be the best recipe for the Eastern Conference of the Stanley Cup Finals, it’ll be good enough for the conference semifinals. But if the Flyers can’t shape up the blue line and the crease, then they’ll have issues down the line. But for now, they’re poised to outplay the Devils.