Bring On Philly!!
Now that the sens fans have shutup, for the 4th time in 5 years, we can look forward to an even better Toronto/Philadelphia matchup!PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (3rd seed, East)
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 40-21-15-6
2004 PLAYOFFS: Defeated New Jersey 4-1, Eastern Conference quarterfinals
REVIEW: The Philadelphia Flyers accomplished a couple things during their first-round series with the New Jersey Devils.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (4th seed, East)
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 45-24-10-3
2004 PLAYOFFS: Defeated Ottawa 4-3, Eastern Conference quarterfinals
REVIEW: They might be old and have their share of defensive deficiencies, but the Maple Leafs were able to oust an Ottawa Senators team that was loaded for bear.
These teams will meet for the second consecutive spring, and we all remember last year’s epic first-round set. The clubs played seven gut wrenching games that lasted 532 minutes in all — nearly nine regulation contests. Philadelphia emerged victorious from the set, which included three multiple overtime tilts.
This past regular season the Flyers went 3-1 against the Leafs, managing each of their victories by at least three goals. Toronto’s lone win came in their final meeting — 3-2 in Philadelphia on March 18.
When these clubs met last spring, the Flyers had become a well-rounded squad under Hitch*****, but still had some question marks on the power play and in goal. Well, Esche right now is a steadier hand than Roman Cechmanek was in 2003, and the team’s play with the man advantage has been shockingly impressive.
Philly led all NHL clubs in the first round with a 33.3 percent success rate on the PP. Of course, the Devils only afforded them 12 chances in the quarters, but they nonetheless capitalized. Roenick posted both of his goals last round on the power play, while Zhamnov and Johnsson each added three assists with the man advantage.
Toronto, on the other hand, was a meager 4-for-32 against Ottawa, but did make up for that by shining on the penalty kill. The Leafs allowed the Senators, whose power-play approach is very similar to the Flyers’, to score only three PPGs on 35 chances.
One area the Maple Leafs will be able to match the Flyers is physicality, something the Devils could not do. Philly took advantage of New Jersey’s lack of size and was able to be effective taking the body, especially in Game 7. Toronto’s scorers don’t all have size, but most don’t mind paying the price for a goal. And they will have to with a very physical Flyer defensive scheme motored by captain Keith Primeau, who would have probably been a Selke finalist if he had not suffered a concussion in February.
Health is a major concern for both teams, but more so for the Leafs. In addition to Sundin, Quinn is waiting for Owen Nolan to be ready. The power forward has been sidelined since late March with a knee injury, but could return later in this series.
While this set could come down to a battle of wills in a Game 7, it could also be short if the Flyers continue to exploit, and also short if Eddie continues to frustrate the opponents offence.
Of course, the one Maple Leaf win over the Flyers came after the acquisition of Leetch, who has historically been a Philly killer.
Prediction review: Well last time I picked the Leafs over Sens in 7 and I was right on, so i’m 1-0.
Prediction: Leafs in 6