TCL Round 1 Staff Predictions: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers




Bloodbath. That's the word that Flyers forward Scott Hartnell used to describe the mindset of these two teams heading into this series. Some of us here at The Checking Line may be proponents of pacifism and the reduction of violence in hockey, but even we get a kick about what's probably going to happen between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in this first round match-up. The two teams set up their series in a game in the final week of the season, and if that was any indication, this one shouldn't disappoint.
Expect a lot of violence, lots of scoring, controversy and fighting, and arguably one of the most anticipated first round match-ups in years. In short, it should be awesome, and it should be long, no matter who comes out the victor.
Consensus: Penguins in 7
Game 1: Wed. April 11 at 7:30PM in Pittsburgh
Game 2: Fri. April 13 at 7:30PM in Pittsburgh
Game 3: Sun. April 15 at 3PM in Philadelphia
Game 4: Wed. April 18 at 7:30PM in Philadelphia
Game 5: Fri. April 20 at 7:30PM in Pittsburgh (if necessary)
Game 6: Sun. April 22 at 3PM in Philadelphia (if necessary)
Game 7: Tue. April 24 at 7:30PM in Pittsburgh (if necessary)
Genius or Madness: Evan Pivnick - Pens in 4
I'm sure NBC is more than happy to broadcast this series. Well, the Penguins are a fantastic team all around. They will go right through the Flyers and eventually make it to the finals this year.
Previous Meetings: Five since 1989, Flyers lead 3-2, but the Pens have won the last in 2008 and 2009. Both years, they made the Stanley Cup Finals.
Related Posts:
Flyers Corner Series Preview: Part 1 and Part 2.
A Look at the Goalie Match-Up by Matt Brigidi.
Inside the Rivalry by Conor Hassard.
These Flyers are Less Hated by Mark "Call me Trible" Trible.
Crosby Says the Flyers are Trying to Persuade the Officials by Matt Brigidi.
- Chuck Gaston Blames the Media.
Key Players:
- F Evgeni Malkin 75GP 50G 59A 109PTS +18 339 shots (Art Ross Winner);
- F James Neal 80GP 40G 41A 81PTS +6 329 shots;
- F Sidney Crosby 22GP 8G 29A 37PTS +15 75 shots (on fire since returning from concussion);
- D Kris Letang 51GP 10G 32A 42PTS +21 24:50TOI;
- G Marc-André Fleury 67GP 2.36GAA .913SVP 3SO 42-17-4
- F Claude Giroux 77GP 28G 65A 93PTS +6 (3rd leading scorer);
- F Scott Hartnell 82GP 37G 30A 67PTS +19 136PIM;
- F Jaromir Jagr 73GP 19G 35A 54PTS +5;
- D Kimmo Timonen 76GP 4G 39A 43PTS +8 ;
- G Ilya Bryzgalov 59GP 2.48GAA .909SVP 6SO 33-16-7
Key Injuries:
Pittsburgh: Ben Lovejoy (Knee, 3-4 weeks), Matt Niskanen (upper body, DTD)
Philadelphia: Ian Laperriere (Concussion, done), Chris Pronger(concussion, done), James Van Riemsdyk (foot, six weeks), Andrej Meszaros (back, 6-8 weeks), Danny Briere (back, questionable)
Prax's Take:
The marquee matchup of this entire first round has to be the Battle of Pennsylvania. The bad blood between these two teams runs deep and dates back a long time, but it has seemingly reached new levels recently, and there are plenty of storylines heading into this one. I find myself to be a fan of both of these teams. I've grown fond of the Flyers this past season -- may or may not have anything to do with the awesome coverage here at The Checking Line, but I also like a lot of what the Pens have to offer. No matter who you are, you probably have an opinion, positive or negative, of at least one of these teams. On paper, both these teams are pretty damn good too. All of that should make for an emotional playoff series that will no doubt turn violent, ugly, and awesome. This is what playoff hockey is all about. As for a winner, my heart says Flyers, but my mind says Pens. Crosby and Malkin are on their A-games, the rest of the team is clicking, and there's no indication of Fleury faltering. The Flyers will do everything to get under their skin, and this is certainly going to 7 games, but it just seems right that the Pens move on here.

Prediction: Pens in 7

Around The Checking Line:
Mark "The Trouble With" Trible:
There's no love lost when these two teams hook up. Philadelphia had Pittsburgh's number most of the season. With Crosby (the Flyers killer) back in the lineup, things certainly change. Although the Flyers have found a way to succeed all season despite injuries, there's no telling how their young players will react to playoff hockey. The Penguins on the other hand, have been there and done that.
Prediction: Pens in 7
Adam Pardes:
There's no question that this will be the series to watch in the first round. Two rivals duking it out just a few games removed from a vicious line brawl. Ultimately, I see Bryzgalov picking up where he left off in March and shutting the door against the Pens. Flyers will get an early jump in the series and head to the conference semifinals.
Prediction: Flyers in 6
Chuck Gaston Jr:
I'm a homer on this one, but I respect this flyers team for how dangerous they are. The key to this series is the turnover to take away ratio. Feeding either transition game in this series spells trouble. The Pens should skate away with a limp, but also a series victory.
Prediction: Pens in 6
Kyle Andrew Busch:
Sidney Crosby is back, but can he thrive ina physical series? Philly is a strong team, with it's only weak point being a young team, but don't tell that to the Flyers. Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell can easily be the best line in the NHL this year. Although Pittsburgh counters with Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, the Flyers defence is more well rounded. Whoever wins this series will make the Eastern Conference Finals.
Prediction: Flyers in 7
This is setting up to be the best series of the first round, but I think the Pens have the edge here. Crosby Malkin and Staal down the middle is too much for any team to contend with. Unless an injury bug hits either one of those guys or Fleury in net, then I dont see Pitt losing.
Prediction: Pens in 6
Nick Symon:
It is all about health for the Penguins in their journey as the heavy favourites for the Stanley Cup. If Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Staal and Fleury can all get through the playoff grind, the Pens should be celebrating with the Cup come June. Nevertheless, the Pens wont have an easy road, starting with the Flyers in a series which should be a complete blood bath. This will be the series to watch in the first round but at the end of the day the Penguins firepower will take over and I just don't have any faith in Ilya Bryzgalov.
Prediction: Pens in 6
John "Roose" Russo:
Whoever comes out of this playoff series alive will have the hardest road to the Finals, especially when the cards could potentially deal them playoff match ups with Boston and New York in the future. That being said, Pittsburgh may be the better-equipped team for that journey with their goaltending, physical play and two of the three best players in hockey. One edge the Flyers have over the Penguins is their play in the CONSOL Enegery Center as well as on the road in general. But home ice will not be as big a factor in this series, rather than how much each team hates each other regardless the fanbase in the stands. That being said, it's going to be a vicious first-round match up. It could be a short series depending on the play of Ilya Bryzgalov or it could be grueling and long depending on whether or not the battle-tested rookies can produce in the biggest games of their young careers.
Prediction: Flyers in 7
Conor Hassard:
The toughest series of them all will be played in the Keystone State. The Penguins clearly have the advantage in experience, having been to the finals two of the last four seasons. The Pens’ also have Crosby back, who has been known to dominate the Flyers time and time again. Where the Flyers have the advantage though is in their seemingly never-ending depth. They’ve been victims to the injury bug all season and guys like Marc-Andre Bourdon continue to step up and fill in. The team just doesn’t quit, and if the ‘shutdown’ line of Talbot, Couturier, and Rinaldo/Voracek can keep Malkin’s line off the scoreboard, the Flyers will edge out the Penguins and move on.
Prediction: Flyers in 7
John Link:
In what will be the best series coming out of the East, the Penguins will escape in the 7th game. These two teams hate each other as shown in their meeting at the end of the season. This will be an extremely physical series and the team that escapes will have a difficult time in the next series no matter who they play. I believe the Penguins escape because of the solid goaltending of Fluery and the use of their high power offense. Penguins win the series in 7 and move on with a black eye and bloody lip.
Prediction: Pens in 7
Matt Cefalu:
Arguably the most exciting series matchup of the first round (and certainly the most hyped) not only will this series come down to the wire, but it will also see the Flyers ultimately upset their Pennsylvania neighbors off the blade of Daniel Briere’s stick. Marc-Andre Fleury will not have a “bad” post-season, but he will struggle to contend with Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds on his front stoop all series. Ilya Bryzgalov will continue his steady play from March and Philadelphia will effectively walk the line between legal and illegal play to drive the Penguins out of their minds. Briere and Claude Giroux will lead the series in points, followed closely behind by Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
Prediction: Flyers in 7
George Royle:
With Crosby back in the lineup, it is crucial that the Flyers stay out of the penalty box. Malkin, Neal, Crosby....the list goes on and the Pens are deadly.
Prediction: Pens in 5
Ty Fisher:
Prediction: Stanley Cup aspirations for Sidney Crosby's squad be damned, they are not advancing from this bloodbath of a series. While they were not the finely tuned machine that they may be now earlier in the year, the Flyers still beat them soundly at every turn and I don't expect that to change. Sure, a lot hinges on Bryzgalov, but I'm more than willing to take a chance on it. Now, let's enjoy all seven games and hope no one dies.
Prediction: Flyers in 7
Andy Veilleux:
 This is probably the most exciting series of the playoffs, even before the shenanigans of last week. The Flyers are going to play as hard as possible on the stars, and try to smash their way through the Pens. In the end, the Penguins are too skilled for the Flyers, and have a strong edge in goaltending. Crosby is well rested, and as Forsberg remarked, '"rest is a weapon."
Prediction: Pens in 7



George Prax's picture

Even though I picked them, I'm surprised to see so many people go with the Pens.

Matt Cefalu's picture

As am I

demez's picture

Nasty matchup for both teams, I see them destroying each other and neither team progressing afterwards.

George Prax's picture

Both were among my top teams in my east... but I have to agree with you.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Just a heads up to all those reading. Ben Lovejoy has progressed very rapidly with his knee injury and is a game time decision for the Pens.

Matt Cefalu's picture

Will certainly provide additional physical presence on the blue line for Pens, something that some could consider a little lacking aside from Orpick

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

It will add both size and speed to the lineup, which is big. Engelland and Orpik are the only physical players consistently though. Look for Kris Letang to establish his physical presence early as well. My guess is on Jagr or Giroux. God I can't wait for this game to start.