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Flyers vs. Penguins: The Battle of Pennsylvania Staff Predictions

The day hath arrived. Playoff hockey is upon us. One of the more intriguing series, and certainly the most highly anticipated series by students on campus will be the 4 vs. 5 seed matchup in the Eastern Conference where the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Philadelphia Flyers in a best of seven series that begins at 7:30 tonight. The Penguins, who will host the first two games, enter with a record 51-25-6 (108 points) while the Flyers finished the regular season at 47-26-9 (103 points) To say that these teams dislike each other might be the understatement of the century. This series should have a bit of everything and could be an instant classic. Below, several Onward State staff members provide their insights, thoughts, and snark: 

Ryan Beckler 

Ah yes, winter has passed and spring has sprung. Playoff hockey is here! I’m not sure if there’s a better place to be than Penn State during these next two weeks. Two teams, two cities, and two fan bases will collide tonight.

Now, as an avid Flyers fan, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. We’re not exactly healthy at this point, however I feel like the Flyers have an edge given our success at Consol.

This series, like every series, will come down to goaltending. If Bryz performs like he’s capable, the Flyers will win. If he scrambles around in the crease like Donovon McNabb would on any given 3rd and long situation, the Flyers will lose. It’s as simple as that.

I truly feel that this series can go either way. With that said, in hope that the Universe pulls through, I’ll take the Flyers in 7.

P.S. If the series is indeed tied 3-3 at some point, I think a fight between “Hulk Hogan’s younger brother” and Scott Hartnell should replace Game 7. Let’s be honest, it’d be great for hockey.

Bobby Chen 

Maybe if this was an English test or something, the Flyers would win this series (see Malkin, Evgeni — @malkin71_). But since I haven’t watched hockey regularly since the days of Mario Lemieux, I’m just going to have to go with my city identification–Pittsburgh–and predict that the Pens will win the series in 6.

My reasoning is that Malkin and Neal will provide ample firepower. Also, Sidney Crosby. We’ll see which Fleury shows up but he’s looked fairly consistent this year. Letang also provides solid offensive support from the blue line. That’s about it for my analysis. If I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to troll away.

Tyler Hoy

The best part about the Pens playing the Flyers in the first round is that somebody has to lose. With that being said, it’s probably going to be the Fly Guys. The Penguins have two players that are significantly better than anyone on Philadelphia in Crosby and Malkin. If those two show up, the series could be over quick.

More often than not, a series comes down to goaltending – advantage Pens. Fleury is one of the best goalies in the league while Bryzgalov or Bobrovsky or whichever scrub the Flyers choose to send out there isn’t. It’s like going to the NFL playoffs without a good quarterback; no matter how good you are, you’re never going to win it all. Am I right Jets fans?

It’s not that the Flyers can’t win; they’ll probably take this series three out of ten times. Crosby is one hit away from spending the postseason as a spectator, and the Flyers offense is very potent. If Crosby goes down or Philly catches fire; this series could get interesting. Nevertheless, I’m sick of hearing about these two teams. Whoever wins gets either the Bruins or Rangers in round two. I’m willing to bet talk will cease after that. I’ll take the Pens in 6 before they get bounced next round.

Anonymous TheSchoolPhilly Impersonator

FUCK Pittsburgh. There all a bunch of pussys. Especialy Cindy Crosby. Hes not a bro like Hartnell. Flyers with the sweep.

Drew Balis 

I do not think I have been this pumped for a first round series since pre 2004-2005 lockout, and at the same time, with all of the excitement, comes a little disappointment knowing that whichever teams ends up on the golf course for the second round is likely better than at least one of the four teams that will still remain in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia rank first and third in goals scored respectively, and either goalie could get hot at any moment.

The teams have some recent playoff history with the Pens taking the Flyers out in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, and in the first round of 2009 where the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup. While the Penguins return eleven players from that cup winning team, the Flyers are much different. One player that does remain is Danny Briere, “Mr Playoffs.” In his first four seasons with the team, the Flyers have won six best of seven series and lost four. In the six victorious series, Briere has recorded 11, 3, 5, 10, 3, and 7 points respectively. If Briere, returning from a back injury, can give the Flyers his typical April production, I like their chances.

In those aforementioned series those past few years, the Flyers left Pittsburgh down 0-2 and were never able to catch up. Despite Flyers Consol domination being snapped last Saturday, I think they steal home ice advantage, leaving Pittsburgh 1-1 with Kate Smith waiting back home. From there, it is wide open. (On a side note, wow, I got through almost 12 lines without mentioning Sidney Crosby). Tonight will mark the first playoff game that I really care about in any sport since Chris Carpenter ended the Phillies dynasty last October. I am hoping this series goes better than that, although I am not sure it could go any worse. With that said, I make my prediction more with anxiousness and nervousness than real confidence. Flyers in 6.

Sam Cooper

Penn State is a unique place to be when teams from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh square off in professional sports. The days leading up to the event usually consist of obnoxious trash talk from students from both cities who actually have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. As a casual follower of hockey, I won’t exclude myself from that classification. What I do know is that the Flyers have had no trouble playing at whatever corporately owned arena the Penguins call home, winning 5 of 6 since the arena opened. Claude Giroux and the Flyers will continue this trend by winning one game in Yinzburgh before heading home to win games 3 and 4 in Philly. Cindy Crosby and company will win game 5 and send the series back to Philly for game 6 where the Flyers will promptly lose in overtime on a shitty goal with Ilya Bryzgalov doing his best Michael Leighton impression. However, the Flyers will win game 7 comfortably and send all the drunk Yinzers home crying.

Greg Schlosser

As a Pens fan, it’s hard not to feel a little confident heading into this series. Not only have the Pens beaten the Flyers twice in the playoffs within the past four years, but the core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, and Jordan Staal has only gotten better over the years. Crosby has been on fire ever since coming back from concussion-like symptoms, Malkin is likely the league MVP, and Fleury is a proven playoff goaltender. Oh, and James Neal, a 40 goal scorer this year, should be back from injury in time for game one.

Sure, the Flyers have some talent of their own in Jaromir “Traitor” Jagr, Claude Giroux, and Scott Hartnell (AKA the biggest douche in the NHL). They also have great young talent in Sean Couturier, Matt Read, and Brayden Schenn (also a douche). However, the one thing that has (and still) plagues the Flyers is goaltending. No one knows if Bobrovsky or Bryzgalov will play well come Wednesday evening, and that lack of confidence might end up hurting the Flyers.

The key to a Pens victory this year is a good start at home. The Flyers have played well at the Consol Energy Center, but ultimately, all bets are off in the playoffs, and the Flyers record in Consol will mean nothing once the puck drops Wednesday. If the Pens can establish home-ice dominance in game one, the momentum quickly shifts in their favor.

The Pens also need to continue their fantastic special teams play, in which they have the 5th best power play in the league and the 3rd best penalty kill. On the flipside, the Flyers have the 6th best power play but only the 17th best penalty kill. If the Pens power play gets enough chances this series (and they will because Philly loves taking stupid penalties), it’s likely the Pens will move on to the next round.

To wrap things up, I think the Pens take the series in 6 (which is probably the amount of times Laviolette will complain about the Pens to the media during the series). Malkin, Crosby, and suspect goaltending will be too much for the Flyers in the end. Let’s Go Pens!

Joe Rogachevsky 

I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a first-round playoff series in my life. After Saturday’s glorified scrimmage, the Pens fans definitely come away feeling like they have the advantage. The ugliest player in the league scored his 50th goal, Crosby got in on the action, and the Penguins were finally able to beat the Flyers in their own building. Series over, Pens in 5.

Not so fast, buddy. Flyers fans needn’t worry. Saturday’s game was a lackluster effort from both teams in a timid matchup that featured backup goalies and incomplete lineups. But while the Penguins sat Neal, Niskanen, and Sullivan, the Flyers were without Briere, Giroux, and Grossman. Clearly Bylsma was more comfortable risking the health of his star players.

This playoff series promises to be a great one to watch, as these teams hate each other as much as any two teams that have ever played. I see Bryz vs. the Stars/Crybabies of the Penguins, and how the plethora of Flyers rookies handle playoff pressure, as being the two biggest factors in deciding who wins this series. If the Fly guys can come back to Philly 1-1, I like the Flyers in 6 or 7.

Greg Pickel

Bryz is back talking about crazy things like bears in the woods, and dropping F bombs, which can only mean he’s gone crazy yet again. Much like the early part of the season, crazy isn’t good when it comes to Bryz. Expect at least one overtime thriller in Game 3 or 4, and that will go a long way in deciding this series. It pains me to put my Orange and Black aside for a moment and say this, but outside of Brayden Schenn’s post-season play being solid, we have no way of knowing how the other rookies, a clog of this team at many points throughout the season, will play under the bright lights, and Matt Carle is good for a defensive zone turnover or three that leads to a goal. With that in mind, I’ll go Penguins in 6, and regardless of who wins this series, they win the second round, too.

Michael Misciagno (and Nick Misciagno) 

The Flyers undoubtedly have the deepest team in the league. Eleven players had double digit goal totals, and 4 of those eclipsed 20. The Flyers also have the hottest goaltender going into the playoffs in Bryzgalov. With his first half struggles completely behind him, Bryzgalov has re-established himself as a premiere NHL net minder worthy of the monster contract Philly signed him to last summer. Most critics pegged this season to be one of rebuilding for the Flyers as they shipped out the frat boys; Mike Richards to Los Angeles and Jeff Carter to Columbus: Hockey Purgatory. The Flyers gained young talent in Couturier, Voracek, Read, Schenn and the Wayne Train who were supurb additions to the Flyers and re-solidified them as legitimate Cup contenders. The subtraction of Ville Leino coinciding with the addition of the Jagrmeister was also considered a risk. Leino tanked this year and Jagr put up essentially the identical stats for the Flyers that Leino had in 2010.

The Penguins had a very successful regular season giving the fact that the NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby missed ¾ of the season with post concussion syndrome. They finished with their first 50+ win season since the 92-93 season. Evgeni Malkin was poised to have a breakout season and he did as he reached 50 goals for the first time in his NHL career.

The outlook of this series is that of a conference final matchup. These teams are arguably the two best teams in the East, and they hate each other. This is going to be a grueling series especially after the bad blood that has spilled over in their most recent matchups. While the Flyers won the season series 4-2 and would still be undefeated at the Consol Energy Center if it wasn’t for a meaningless game last Saturday, the fact that the Penguins have the best player in the world in Crosby is indisputably a scary thought for Flyers fans.

The national media will predictably ham this series up as the Sidney Crosby Show. All the hockey “experts” on national news media outlets like Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, and brilliant hockey minds like Pierre McGuire will pick the Penguins to win. Anyone who knows hockey understands that while the Pens have the best individual talent; the Flyers have much more talent. The Flyers are more than a one trick pony and have three deep lines that can score at any moment. The Penguins defense has shown more holes than a Michael Bay movie the past two weeks, and Marc Andre Fleury has looked simply disheveled. While the Pens may have the best player in this world, the Flyers have Mr. Universe who will be the difference maker in this series. Unless Gary Bettman, Brendan Shanahan, ESPN, NBC and Co. can figure out how to bend the rules enough to keep their alter boy in the playoffs, the Flyers take it in a very tough 6 games.

 

After taking the time to read all of our views and predictions, we’d love to hear from all of you. Tell us in the comments who is going to win the series and why. 

 

 

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