Can the Flyers Knock-Off the Penguins? [AUDIO]
Ilya Bryzgalov will enter the playoffs as confident as ever after having one of his best months in his career in March. The Flyers are going to need his best effort to advance against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Lisa Hillary from CSN in Philadelphia joined the Sports Bash to preview tonight's game one live from Pittsburgh and gives you a look inside the Flyers locker room as they get ready for this series.
The Orange and Black open their best-of-seven game series against their rival Pens at Consol Energy Arena and "Bad Blood" has been the theme entering the series. Bryzgalov posted a 11-4-1 record with a 1.61 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in 16 games since Feb. 28.
Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette told the Philadelphia Daily News he thinks Bryzgalov is just more comfortable in Philly. "I think sometimes it takes time when you move or change places," Laviolette said. "He was in Phoenix for quite some time, on the West Coast for quite some time. You come to a new conference, you get new teammates, new system, and a new coach. .. . There's a settling-in period. Certainly down the stretch, Bryz was a big reason we had success the way that we did. He was a rock for us. In the playoffs, that's always important."
The Flyers haven't always had a rock in net, for nine-years and $91 million they hope they finally found one. The Flyers will need him to continue to play at a high level if they want to upset the favored Pittsburgh Penguins in round one of the postseason.
Daniel Briere appears as though he will be alright to play in Game one, he will provide a big lift to the offense on the second line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
Also on the inury front, Nicklas Grossmann has announced that he's 100%, that should provide a big lift to the Flyers defense who will be without Chris Pronger. Grossmann is one of the best one it comes to blocking shots.
Another big story will be the return of Jaromir Jagr to Pittsburgh for a playoff series. Jagr has said he still has no regrets about choosing to play in Philadelphia this season and not returning to his roots in Pittsburgh.
"When I decided to come back, I wanted to have some sort of responsibility with the team and be able to play a lot," Jagr told the Daily News. "I felt this is going to be my best choice. A brand-new team with a lot of new pieces and I'm gonna have a chance like everybody else. If I come to a team that just won the Stanley Cup or all the lines have been set for last 5 years, I might be playing third or fourth line. But I didn't come back to play third or fourth line. I'm not good there."
One Flyer who had a breakout season is Scott Hartnell.
Hartnell said believes that the Flyers can have success against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the playoffs, if they make guys like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal play a physical hockey.
"Personally, when I get hit or get physically involved in the game, everything comes a step quicker for me," Hartnell told the Daily News. "To be successful, you've got to hit those guys. You've got to hit their skilled 'Defense. Their defensemen might not want to go in the corner for the puck. You've got to make it hard on them every chance you get."
The main key to this series will be the play of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, vs Ilya Bryzgalov as many playoff series come down to. If The Flyers can get to Fleury early in the series they can prove to the Pens that their regular season success against the Penguins was no fluke.
Can the Flyers youth match the star power of the Penguins, can the Flyers defense step up their game in front of Bruzgalov and can the Flyers find another scorer behind the top line of Jagr, Hartnell and Giroux?
Those questions need to be answered for the Flyers to advance and I believe they will.
The Pick: Flyers in 7