How Shaggy Will the Playoff Beards Get?

Same Ol' Pimp.

It’s that time.  Time for hot goalies, OT thrillers, and for casual fans to start paying attention to hockey.  The Flyers will never want for diehards.  In the last few weeks as the Flyers stumbled a bit, lost the #1 seed, it was interesting to see the reactions to the articles I read online.  If I went to Comcast’s website, an article about the Phillies game might have 10 comments.  An article about a Flyers loss, or their goalie situation might have 120.  That’s those maniacs that live and die with every Flyers period all year, and now they’ll be joined in the ranks by those who can’t deny the excitement of playoff hockey.

If you live in a cave, I’ll remind you the Flyers are coming off a Stanley Cup Finals run last year.  It was the most improbable Flyers playoff season of my lifetime.  They slipped in on the final day, overcame a 3-0 deficit to Boston, and came within Michael Leighton’s 5-hole of possibly forcing a game seven in the Finals.  This year, established as favorites of a sort, they streaked out to a huge lead in the East and then set it in neutral.  Still a popular pick among some pundits, we’re back to square one, starting every Flyers playoff run of the last couple of decades with the same thought:  Almost nothing would surprise me.  And, we’ve got a familiar foe, and familiar questions.  Things to look at…

Opposite Directions:

The Flyers come into the playoffs riding a good 6-week stretch of mediocrity.  They burnt through a big cushion in the East and ended up with the #2 seed.  The Sabres spent a good portion of the season as an afterthought, but finished with a 16-4-4 stretch, and locked up their playoff spot in the final week of the season.  This is a close series for a 2/7.  The line tells you that, and the Flyers despite having the much higher seed only won 4 more games than Buffalo did this year. Over the course of a season that isn’t much difference.  The Flyers have talked about “flipping the switch,” a lot.  Their plan to return to their early season form.  If they don’t have that switch, this will be a dog fight.

Health:

It’s hard to imagine the Flyers can make a long run again if Chris Pronger isn’t healthy and playing effective hockey, and providing leadership. Pronger broke his hand and hasn’t played in a game in about a month.  The good news is that he should be fresh otherwise, but as is always the case there is a lot of mystery surrounding Pronger’s actual status.  He’s a game-time decision for the opener Thursday night.  Other than “Prongs,” the playoffs are always a war of attrition.  Luck plays a part, but also when you have the better team you have to close things out.  You don’t want to be playing long, grueling 7-gamers from the opening round on.

Goalies:

If you are trying to zero in on an edge that Buffalo has in this match-up, this is certainly the first place you’d look.  The Flyers are deeper up front than any team in the league.  Their defense, especially if Pronger is close to 100%, is capable. But, there’s always that goalie question.  This year, the Flyers enter the playoffs with Sergei Bobrovsky in net.  The rookie from Russia started strong, has shown streaks of brilliance, but has looked vulnerable at times, as well.  He was pulled from the last game of the regular season.  There’s almost no question that Brian Boucher will also see time this post-season and if things get desperate, maybe Michael Leighton, too.  The Sabres have last year’s Vezina trophy winner, Ryan Miller.  He hasn’t had a great year, but he’s proven capable of elevating his game.  He’s the one goalie on either side that you think could steal the series.  Is it likely to happen?  Probably not, but the possibility exists.

Some Flyers Keys:

  1. Power Play–When you get these opportunities in the post-season you have to take advantage.  The Flyers have plenty of skill, but have been inconsistent, sputtering to the bottom half of the league overall.  If they win the special teams battle, they’ll be very dangerous.
  2. Contain Thomas Vanek–The Sabres aren’t loaded with household names.  Vanek is a guy that’ll make you nervous when he has the puck.
  3. Claude Giroux–Giroux has had brilliant flashes in the post-season.  This year he led the Flyers in points.  If he could find even just a slightly higher gear, the Flyers may have a playoff assassin.
  4. Game One–I honestly think tonight is pretty big.  Because it’s home, because the Flyers have talked about turning it on, because it’s Bob’s debut, a win seems very important.

Will the Razors come Out?

My prediction is Flyers in five.  The basic five-gamer.  Win the first two, split on the road, close it out at home.  The post may not have sounded terribly optimistic, but I think the Flyers will play better than they did at the end of the year, I don’t think Miller will stand on his head, and there’s just way too much offensive talent on Philly’s side to be contained.  If you struggle with Buffalo, you probably aren’t going anywhere, so might as well start things off optimistically.

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15 thoughts on “How Shaggy Will the Playoff Beards Get?

  1. UPDATE: Reading right now that it looks as if Pronger is not going to play. I think that makes tonight that much more important. If Prongs doesn’t play the entire series, I’ll change my prediction to Flyers in 7.

  2. No Pronger? Yikes.

    Obviously he makes the Flyers on defense, which also could help settle Sideshow Bob in his debut.

    The other thing I like about Pronger is when he is on the power play. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like he can score every now and then from the point or toss something up there that can get redirected.

    With Pronger I say Sabres in 6. Without him I say Sabres in 5.

      • I honestly can’t get a true feel for the Flyers, but if I had to make a genuine pick, I would have to side with the Sabres.

        And if the Flyers lose it will be one the most disappointing…Oh, nevermind

      • I don’t think it’s possible to get a feel for playoff hockey at any time. Hot goalies drive teams to the finals, like the ducks, crazy sh*t happens all the time. Rangers game last night was exhausting, thought they were gonna pull it out but no dice.

        Ironically I was talking to an alum 2 weeks ago…eh, not worth going back to it.

      • there’s nothing overly scary about the Sabres for me. they’re ok, but you go line for line and the Flyers have a huge advantage. it’s not like the old days where one guy or one line has to do it all. and, if they can score some goals, Bob doesn’t haven’t to be sensational.

        in terms of your former Nova argument, this would definitely be a giant disappointment if they lost this series. It’s hard to rank them all, but it would be HUGE.

        and, speaking of Nova, did you guys see that will sheridan rap(?) video on deadspin yesterday?

      • You mean that techno rap thing? And don’t forget the “former” in there. I don’t know what’s worse, the beat, his extremely, um, uncomfortable dancing or the lyrics such as:

        “grown man simba, no lyin’, i’m grown man simba and you looking like a dinna”. What the eff is happening? “Stop, the tractors engines…” YOU STOP WILL SHERIDAN!

      • yeah, that’s the one.

        the thing is, no matter what genre of music you tried to fit it into. it would be a huge insult to that genre. HUGE.

        those lion king references are cutting edge, though.

  3. I think my favorite thing about Pronger, putting aside the fact that he’s a good player is that he is just a total prick. to the media, to the other team, he doesn’t give a bleep and you need guys like that.

    you are such a downer right now, it’s amazing.

    i’m happy to have you on the Sabres side for this one.

  4. can we have a phillies pup on this blog? or would the creation of a secondary mascot imply future trials and tribulations on par with the teams who need a donkey and a kitten?

    q

  5. yes’m. it’s just that puppies and kitties are cute anytime, no matter the ocasion. (one or two c’s? )

    anyhow…i feel like this is blog worthy…our staff just received an all office intercom announcement from our gluten allergic (but eats when ‘necessary’) program director:

    “everybody, there’s a new cinnamon bun place in the exton mall…i tried it last night, i broke down, you all should go at lunch.”

    cinnamon bun run (yeah right, not for q…though she wishes).

    FYI brought to you by Q

  6. You should hear the death knells for the Mets already here, it’s great. Fans calling for Jason Bay’s head (he’s injured), saying they need to trade Reyes and Young and Beltran, fire whoever the manager is b/c he didn’t walk Tulowitzki in the 2nd inning of a mid April game haha. Classic.

    I know one Sabres fan who’s fired up.

  7. it’s a shame it isn’t the NFL. the mets could just cut all these guys and start over. though, that is kind of what they are doing anyway, they just have to eat the money.

    the mets have that extra stink. you can’t express how bad they are on paper. it’s like oh, beltran, reyes, wright, bay, pagan…that’s not too bad.

    but, they’re the mets so they’ll lose 90 games.

    if you are a mets fan, though, you should have really seen it coming. your best player is RA Dickey.

  8. One of my all time favorite past times is to forward emails to me from Mets fans back to them as the year unravels. Like when everyone was hollering that Pelfrey was an ace, or Reyes was the best shortstop in baseball, then they collapse and i get to forward them just to remind them “hey, you’re still the mets, go back to your hole.”

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