Flyers Second Round Scenarios Taking Shape
If for no reason than because it eliminates from their possible second round pool not only the two toughest teams overall, but the two steepest match-ups for the Flyers, specifically. Now, not only is Boston (3-1 against PHI this season, only win Game 1 of regular season) bumped from the bracket, but the remaining seeds make for an impossible Rangers-Flyers pairing.
(Which, yeah, is a super good thing, considering New York posted the first sweep, 6-0, of the Flyers in 40 years, a over-the-knee spanking we’d like to think would a pretty hefty mental edge. Scarring, really.
Though, it should be noted, now might be the best time to take the Rangers, considering they’ve had bruised egos and been brought to a Game 7. Exhausting on all fronts, as opposed to the second wind they’re likely to get from a dominant second round that buries in their minds this opening round mishap. Onward.)
Thanks to Frank Seravalli, we’ve got a pretty clear picture of what’s in store for the Flyers, depending on how the rest of the Eastern Conference bracket shakes out. Actually it’s not pretty clear. It’s totally fixed. Like handprints in cement that spell out scores of Auburn basketball games.
If NYR & FLA win – Flyers face Florida (5 vs. 3)
If NYR & NJD win – Flyers face New Jersey (5 vs. 6)
If OTT & FLA win – Flyers face Washington (5 vs. 7)
If OTT & NJD win – Flyers face Ottawa (5 vs. 8)
And you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad draw for the Orange and Black, likely to black and blue all over whoever they get. (Cheesy? I know. I sorry…)
The Flyers regular season marks against their possible upcoming opponents are all at or above .500. Of those highly worthless 82 games, the Flyers emerged 3-3 (1 SO loss) against New Jersey and 2-2 (1 OT win, 1 SO loss) against Ottawa. Dead. Even.
But they have, at least to the degree that you can in four and three (marginally meaningless) regular season games, owned Florida (3-1, 1 SO win) and Washington (3-0, 1 SO win).
And the Flyers strengths (particularly their special teams), stack up delightfully favorably against that entire set. In the regular season, the Flyers ranked 6th (19.7 percent) in power play goal conversion rate (good), and a not-so-hot 58 power play goals against (bad). That meshes pretty well with any of the Devils (No. 14 PPG%, No. 1 PPGA), Senators (No. 11, No. 5 PPGA), Panthers (No. 7 PPG%, No. 14 PPGA). Don’t look to be taken advantage of in shorthanded situations by anybody there.
None ought to be considered cakewalks. Not by any stretch.
But, the Marty Brodeur-led stinginess on shorthanded Devils sets notwithstanding, nothing really jumps off the page.
Not nearly to the degree that does the Flyers runaway league-leading 52.2 percent power play goal percentage in the playoffs, making for the only double-digit power play scoring offense in the sport’s elimination series. Of 16 teams, Florida ranked No. 4 (7-for-23, 30.4 percent), New Jersey ranked No.5 (5-for-22, 22.7 percent), Washington No. 9 (3-for-18, 16.7 percent), Ottawa No. 11 (3-for-24, 12.5 percent).
Moreover, the Flyers might’ve been second in the sport this postseason in power play goals allowed (matter of fact, their penalty kill was godawful, allowing 9 in 29 total chances, which is also totally worth nthoting, because about 15 of those situations stemmed from totally tactless and inexcusable penalties), but that was exacted by the Penguins, who, yeah, were pretty much, like, the best scoring offense ever. (Maybe not ever, ever. But, like, 2011-12 Ever, ever.)
Can’t really say the same for Ottawa, which may have the second-best power play goal against percentage (5-for-29, 17.2 percent), but also faced in Round 1 the Rangers, the league’s No. 23 power play goal offense (15.7 percent).
Ultimately,more than anything else, this might come down to how poised and composed the Flyers youngsters prove, especially for Sean Couturier, who, you’d have to figure after the top-notch cover job he did against Evgeni Malkin (3 goals in 6 games, which, yeah, is pretty good for a 19-year-old against a 50-goal scorer and 109-point getter in the regular season), is probably going to be pegged against the the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin (38 G, 27 A in regular season), Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk (37 G, 46A), Stephen Weiss (20 G, 37 A), or Senators’ Jason Spezza (34 G, 50 A).
And you’ve gotta be banking on Claude Giroux (6 G, 12 A in last 10 gms) and Danny Briere (4 G, 5 A in last 7 gms) keeping pace with what have, to this point, been pretty remarkable postseason parties.
And that Ilya Bryzgalov doesn’t have a breakdown, in the net or in his mind or in the forest or, really, anywhere. Don’t hold your breath on that. We aren’t.
(This article was written by Matt Hammond, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)