Flyers-Bruins, Preview & Predictions

April 30th, 2011 by Scott Dargis | Filed under Flyers, Hockey.

Welcome to the time warp known as the Eastern Conference semifinals. While it might not be the exact calendar date, it was on the final Saturday of April last year that the Flyers and Bruins began their Eastern Conference semifinal series. While we all know how that series turned out, this year’s series promises to be just as thrilling, compelling, and hopefully not as worrisome. Though if the regular season was any indication, the Flyers may have a tougher time than they did against Buffalo.

The Flyers come into this series with their leading goal scorer of the regular season, Jeff Carter, on the injury list. He is hopeful to return at some point, but probably won’t be back until game 4 at the earliest of this series. By coming back I mean actually active on the ice, while we may see him earlier on in the series, he will probably be a shadow of himself like he was last year when he came back early from injury.

Even without Carter in the lineup, this is still a very powerful offense that can find efficiency from multiple sources. James van Riemsdyk had a coming out party in the first round. He scored four goals in the series and recorded the most amount of shots compared to anyone else in the playoffs. Danny Briere had six goals in against his former team. Briere has had more playoff points than anyone else since the lockout, he has found a way to raise his game at the time when you need it the most. Claude Giroux was very quiet in the scoring department in the first series, look for him to turn it around against the Bruins

The Bruins come in with some fire power on the offensive side of the ice. Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton led the team with 3 goals in the first round series. Boston’s most dynamic scorers, Milan Lucic and Patrice Burgeron can give the Flyers fits at times. And former flyer Marc Recchi always finds a way to make a play when he needs to.

With loss comes some gain, and the Flyers have gotten a huge boost, especially in the power play from the returning Chris Pronger. With the couple days off since the Sabres series to heal, Pronger should return to the ice time that we are used to seeing him play. He averaged just over 28 minutes  in the playoffs last season.

Pronger is key to the power play being successful. Since Pronger returned in game 6 the power play scored at a 37.5% rate. Before game 6, the Flyers scored at a 13% rate. On the flip side the power play for the Bruins has been anemic and that is being kind. They went 0-for-21 in the first round against Montreal. They became the first team in NHL history to win a playoff series without scoring a power play goal. At some point they are going to score on the power play, it is just inevitable.

The defense for the Bruins is captained by the big man, Zedno Chara. It will be interesting to see how he handles playing against the depth that the Flyers have in the speed and power department. Montreal gave them fits with their small speedy forwards. The Flyers are not as quick as the Habs, but they have more power and aggression on their scoring lines.

In net the Flyers will see Tim Thomas. He won the Venzia trophy winner in the 08-09 season. Thomas is a fantastic goaltender, one that can make saves in almost any situation, but if you can figure out how to score on him he loses his mental edge. Brian Boucher appears to be a more complete goaltender than he was last year against the Bruins. After going through the roulette of goalies, Boucher knows that the job is his, which can go along way with his confidence.

Prediction – Flyers in 6. The Bruins will prove to be more of a test than the Sabres. They are much more physical and have experience, something that the Sabres did not, however the Flyers just have too much offensive talent to not score on Thomas which will be the key battle in this series. If the power play continues to get the biscuit in the basket, then it will be tough for the Bruins to keep up. I expect to see a good series out of Giroux, Briere, and Mike Richards, he may not have a lot of points, but he will be a difference maker.

Follow me on twitter at Airdare18, I’ll be giving updates throughout the series.

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2 Responses to “Flyers-Bruins, Preview & Predictions”

  1. Scott Dargis says:

    It was tough to watch, but the Flyers play their best hockey when they back themselves into a corner, so for them to get off on a slow start in a series wasn’t that surprising. They’ll be much more physical in game 2, otherwise the hole could get deeper.

  2. ChrisLeo33 says:

    I want to believe you are right but after the first game it’s looking tough.