Every playoff matchup will receive a once-over prior to puck drop this week, including Bourne’s prediction, explanation and final thought on each. He does not hate your team. He does not love your team. He is just talking hockey.

Previously: # 1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators

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Season matchup: Philadelphia had the edge, 4-2-0

Who wins the series: The Penguins

How many games: The equivalent of 1,007 after it goes to many, many overtimes

Please do explain:

These two teams are a crazy type of close, but I’m giving Pittsburgh the nod for three main reasons: 1) home ice, 2) Crosby’s back – had he been around all year, the Pens might be 1st in the East, and 3) they have the faintest of statistical advantage in nearly every category over Philly.

Pittsburgh is 1st in the NHL in goals-per-game (3.33). Philly is 2nd (3.18).

Pittsburgh is 17th in goals-against-per-game (2.66). Philly is 20th (2.74).

They’re tied for 5th in the NHL in powerplay percentage at 19.7.

Pittsburgh has a 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio of 1.17 (5th). Philly’s is 1.13 (7th).

Pitt leads the NHL is shots-per-game, with 33.9. Philly is all the way back in 4th, with 32.2. Meanwhile Pitt gives up 27.4 shots per game (4th best), while Philly gives up 28.4 (7th best).

They’re all over each other statistically, with Pitt just constantly eeking them out. The only real statistical difference is that Pittsburgh kills off 87.8% of their penalties, good for 3rd in the League, while Philly only kills off 81.8%, earning themselves the 17th spot.

What I’m excited to find out:

Which Ilya Bryzgalov shows up to the party.

We’ve seen him play like a donkey at times this year, but we’ve also seen him go through stretches of pure brilliance. It’ll be interesting to see if the Flyers, who made big the off-season moves to plug their hole in net, get what they bargained for in the big moments of round one.

Final thought:

Playoffs are unpredictable, but I just don’t see any way Philly wins the series without it going the distance. I could see Pitt taking it in under seven, but if Philly wins, I think it’ll be in Pittsburgh in the series’ final game.

Comments (7)

  1. Disagree on one point. If Philly wins the series its going to be in 6, at home. If that happens it’ll go like this. Philly steals one of the first two in Pitt, wins two at home, loses game 5 and wins game 6 back at home. If it gets back to game 7 in Pitt, no way the Flyers can win.

  2. “1) home ice”
    You do realize that the Flyers have beaten the Penguins at Consol in 5 of 6 tries, and pretty much in every meaningful game played there since they opened it?

  3. You nailed it when you talked about Byrzgalov. If he shows up and plays like he can, the series will be what we all hope for. If he isn’t on top of his game, I see the Pens winning it in 5.

  4. philly has no shot ….. if bryz plays better than he ever has before he i sstill no where near as good as fleury at his worse

  5. Comparing this series to the last two times these teams have met in the post-season, I’d have to say this is the Flyers best chance at beating the Penguins.

    They did very well against them all season: winning 4, losing 1 meaningful game, and losing another where they sat their top 2 Centers and starting goaltender. I honestly think that Philly has the advantage here, even with Crosby back in the line-up.

  6. With the return of Crosby I think Pittsburgh has the advantage, but think about how pissed off the Consol fans will be when Jagr scores the OT winner in Game 7. Wouldn’t you want to be in a protective bubble watching that one?

    What if he salutes?

  7. This Pens fan is worried. Everybody picks Pittsburgh in this one but I think that the Flyers are the worst match-up for the Pens in the playoffs and the one team that should beat them. The Pens are quicker and tougher than any team in the West. They beat the Rangers, Bruins and Devils this year with relative ease. But Philly, man, they just have the Pens’ number. They win at Consol, they have been able to shut down Malkin, and they’ve repeatedly made the Penguins lose their composure. Sure, their stats are below Pittsburgh in every category, because they are a slightly lesser team. But they get up to play the Penguins. Just look at the back to back they had a couple of weeks ago, with a lackluster performance at home against Ottawa and then a dominant performance the very next day in Pittsburgh. I actually think this rivalry is a detriment for the Pens mentally, but it does wonders for the Flyers.

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