The day has finally arrived.
To get you set for tonight’s puck drop against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, we’ve put all of the relevant links in our playoff preview here:
(click to read each story)
-Position by position scouting report of both teams
-Chris Pronger will miss Game 1
-Claude Giroux’s skills make him a target
-Sam Donnellon: No excuses for Flyers this year
-Rich Hofmann: Flyers’ edge in playoffs should be balance
-Rich Hofmann: Flyers can beat Buffalo without Pronger
-Rich Hofmann: Flyers blueprint: wearing out Sabres defense
-Putting Lindy Ruff’s longevity as Buffalo coach in perspective
-A look at Ville Leino both on and off the ice
-The Flyers’ goaltending situation may not be all that different than Buffalo
-Traveler Meszaros focused on Flyers’ road to Stanley Cup
-Daily News’ Flyers vs. Buffalo series picks
-Daily News’ first round playoff predictions
Now, to further your appetite, here are 3 reasons why the Flyers win and do not win against Buffalo:
3 reasons the Flyers win:
1. Power play: The Flyers finally get their power play going, after closing out the season just 1-for-29 against teams named anything other than the Islanders or Senators. Their power play has not worked consistently all season, which is mind-boggling because it is largely the same personnel that was in the Top 5 all of last season and connected at a 21.9 percent clip in the playoffs last spring.
2. Danny Briere: The Flyers will be a solid position if Danny Briere can continue his hot streak against Buffalo. Briere has 19 points in 14 career games against Buffalo and 8 points in 4 games this season, his most against any single opponent. But a hot Briere also means that Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino will post productive series numbers. Briere’s line has accounted for 10 goals over the Flyers’ last 10 games of the regular season.
3. Matt Carle: Statistically speaking, in terms of chances-for and chances-against on the ice, Matt Carle has been the Flyers’ most dominant defenseman in the absence of Chris Pronger. Carle rarely makes mistakes and he is usually involved offensively at the other end of the ice. Carle’s minutes will likely continue to increase in the postseason, even though most of the Sabres’ focus will now be on Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros with Pronger out to start.
Other the other hand, here are 3 reasons the Sabres win:
1. Game One: The Sabres have been ridiculous in Game 1’s on the road since Lindy Ruff took over as the Sabres’ head coach in 1997. How ridiculous? How about 8-2 in Game 1’s away from HSBC Arena. The bad news is that the Sabres haven’t lost a series under Ruff when winning Game 1 on the road. But the good news, for the Flyers, is that the Sabres went on to lose both series in which they lost Game 1 away from home.
2. Ryan Miller: Ruff said that Ryan Miller, Buffalo’s workhorse in net, enters the playoffs the most rested he has ever been in his career, after sitting out 4 out of the final 6 games of the regular season and having 4 days of rest before the start of the postseason. That’s a scary thought for Flyers fans, given that these 4 days were additional healing time for Miller’s wonky collarbone injury. Miller has the pure ability to steal games for Buffalo … but only if he is healthy.
3. Nathan Gerbe and Brad Boyes: Nearly 99 percent of the Flyers’ focus defensively will be shutting down Buffalo’s top line of Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville. Nathan Gerbe and Brad Boyes can still present a threat – and the Sabres need them to in order to be successful. Boyes actually played in 83 games this season, since he played 1 extra with St. Louis before his Feb. 28 deadline trade. Since joining Buffalo, Boyes netted 14 points in 21 games with the Sabres. Gerbe, just 5-foot-5, has 10 points in the last 14 games. He torched the Flyers twice in Buffalo last Friday.
Now, for a little fun. Remember when the names Michael Peca, Richard Smehlik and Alexei Zhitnik filled the Buffalo roster in the late 1990s? How about this classic sign seen in the Wells Fargo Center:
"Hey Peca-head, You Smehlik like Zhitnik!"
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers
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