ESPN America's schedule allowed me, up till now, to see all the Philadelphia Flyers' games during this playoff season.
Especially after the 6 games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, I'm finding myself asking, if the Flyers would be ready for their third Stanley Cup?
It's been a long time, the Philadelphia Flyers raised it. They won in 1974 and 1975 and had their last appearance in a Stanley Cup Final 2010, when they lost in 6 games against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Flyers had some important keypoints during the first series, I want 1) to point out in the following and 2) to compare with the first three games of the 2nd round series vs. the New Jersey Devils.
Keypoints during the series vs. the Penguins and how they managed it vs. the Devils:
1)Comeback: In the first game of the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins were 3-0 after 20 Minutes and lost the game in overtime, in games 2 and 3 the Flyers also came back from a deficit and were 3-0 after three games. Their ability to come back and not give up, was one of the reasons, they won this series.
Down 1-0 in the first game against the Devils, the Flyers won in overtime, again, but couldn't win the second and third game after a 1-0 lead.
2)Rookies: Flyers' new kids outscored Penguins' stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in 6 games. Claude Giroux scored 6 goals and had 14 points during the first round, along with Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk, he played 6 great games.
Against the New Jersey Devils Giroux isn't as productive as he was in the first series. Only one powerplay goal in three games and no assists are in the books for a player, called the "best player in the world" by his coach Peter Laviolette after the victory against cross-state rival Pittsburgh.
3) Danny Brière: He scored the Flyers' first goal in the first round and scored the game winning OT goal in the first and the 3-3 equalizer in the third game against the New Jersey Devils.
Up till now he has 8 goals (leading the statistics) and 12 points in 9 games this post season and 108 points (50 goals) in 106 playoff games. There is a reason, why they call him Mr. Playoffs!
4) Powerplay: 14/39 in 9 games, 12/23 vs. Pens and 3 short handed goals, only two PP goals vs.the Devils in the first and third game (having at least wasted three powerplays during the overtimes), no PPG in the 2nd game.
5) Goaltending: In the first round, the Flyers' goalies allowed 4,33 goals per game, after 9 playoff games 4,11 goals/game. Not only that they allowed so many goals, the goalies looked a bit shaky during the first round, that said, the Penguins couldn't capitalize and allowed even more goals. Although the Flyers lost the 2nd and 3rd game against the Devils the goaltender did a great job and had some awesome saves (it is definitely not his fault that they lost), while the Flyers themselves just couldn't produce any great chances, especially in game two (example? 2nd period: first shot on goal 2 minutes before the period ended)
6)Final thoughts: The Flyers literally overrun the Penguins in the first round, but they have a lot of problems shutting the Devils down now. (Maybe it was their motivation against the Pens oder the Penguins' problems they faced the last months before the playoffs or just the mental aspect after game 1, beeing 3-0 in front and losing in overtime could be tough).
But their powerplay isn't working as well as it did in the games against the Pens, or in other words, the Devils PK is much better, than the Pens' one was. In last night's overtime for example, the Devils had to kill two penalties and did it well and "the best player in the world" Claude Giroux hasn't been a factor yet. (But it's still great, being world's best player for a week or so)
The way, they played against the Pittsburgh Penguins I'd say, they had a chance to make the Stanley Cup finals, but after the last two games against the New Jersey Devils, I'm not sure though.
Semis updates May 4th:
Phoenix Coyotes - Nashville Predators 2-1
The Preds were down 2-0 after two games, while their goaltender Pekka Rinne allowed 9 goals in the first two games (he allowed 9 goals in 5 games in the first playoff round). Not enough problems with that, the Predators suspended two players because of "violation of the team rules". Maybe just what they needed, they won their first game at home in this series and goalie Rinne had his first career playoff shutout in wednesday night's 3rd game.
Los Angeles Kings - St. Louis Blues 3-0
The Los Angeles Kings had 5 away games in the playoffs, till now, and won all of them, only lost 1 game at home.
Could it be the LA Kings, that move to the Stanley Cup finals from the Western Conference?
New York Rangers - Washingtion Capitals 2-1
After two games, the series was tied and the third game, wedneday night, took place in Washington. The New York Rangers won this game in the 3rd OT period, after they almost played 55 minutes during this overtime. (They nearly played two complete hockey games = 120 minutes on one evening)
Philadelphia Flyers - New Jersey Devils 1-2
After their victory in the first game during overtime, the Flyers fell short in the 2nd and 3rd game. In game 2 the hometeam had the 1-0 lead after 40 Minutes, then the Devils scored 4 unanswered goals in the 3rd period to tie the series in one. The third game went into OT, where the Devils scored the game winning goal after 17 minutes.
Worlds in Finland/Helsinki and Sweden/Stockholm 4-20 May 2012:
Today, the 76th men's world ice hockey championships are starting in Finland and Sweden.
I love hockey, but I really get exhausted by seeing this big ice hockey rink (comparing to the ones in North America).
As I am from Germany, I am really excited about it and how the German team will play their first game today, team captain would be Marcel Goc, the only NHL player in Germany's roster (his team, the Florida Panthers lost against the New Jersey Devils during the first playoff round).
The last two world championships were really awesome to watch, beating the Russian team 2-0 last year, was all over the news here in Germany, a country, where a lot of people dont't know much about hockey. (Germany lost their quarterfinals against Sweden, who won the silver medal in the finals against Finland)
It is also a tournament with a lot of starts especially from Sweden, Russia and Canada, that said, these would also be my picks to win the worlds this year.
New mode: 2 groups with 8 teams each, first 4 are playing the quaterfinals then, the 8th will be relegated.