Questions For Flyers As They Face Penguins In Game 1
Last season theentered the playoffs against the Buffalo Sabres with some questions surrounding their struggling goaltending and their defense. Injuries played a factor as well, as the team was without the services of Chris Pronger who was out recovering from hand surgery.
Fast forward to this season and the Flyers yet again suffer from the injury bug as they enter the playoffs against their much maligned cross-state rival, the. As expected the team will be without their Captain Chris Pronger, who cranks up the nasty meter during this time of the season.
This season's playoffs will be even more challenging as they will also be without defenseman Andrej Meszaros and winger James Van Riemsdyk, who came out of his shell this time last season.
Even though the Flyers broke the bank on goaltending this season, they still enter the playoffs with questions in that area. Not to who will start, but on how he will perform.
Ilya Bryzgalov was having a great month of March winning NHL player of the week in back to back weeks (as well as player of the entire month), a franchise-record breaking shutout streak, and more importantly he regained his confidence during that span.
Even more concerning to the Flyers are the early leads they have been spotting the opposition all season.
The high powered offense of the Pittsburgh Penguins will be getting some power plays every game and spotting the league leaders in goals per game (3.33) early even strength goals will spell an early exit.
Speaking of the power play, special teams will be the difference maker in this series. Everyone knows how the officiating will be in this series and with the dirty play of the Penguins stars the Flyers will have to keep their composure and avoid the retaliation penalty.
The Penguins ended the season fifth overall with the man advantage, this will test the Flyers penalty kill which ended the season 17th overall at 81.8%. The Flyers will also need to find the scoring touch they had in the first half of the regular season as they have struggled at the end of the season to find the back of the net.
Even with the man advantage the Flyers may struggle, Pittsburgh ended the season third overall on the penalty kill with an 87.8% kill rate.
Although the Flyers won the season series, the playoffs are a fresh start and the Penguins got the biggest addition of any team after the trade deadline passed, Sidney Crosby, the perfect time for a jolt to the lineup.
On the other hand the Flyers are entering on the opposite end of the spectrum, losing key players at the wrong time (Danny Briere, Nicklas Grossmann), then getting them back in time to start the series.
But just how well will this players perform? Are they coming back too soon from injury?
Just more questions for this Flyers team to answer.
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