Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Three things to look for in Flyers' Game 1

Three things.

Three things to look for in Flyers' Game 1

Three things to look for in Saturday's Game 1 against the Bruins.

1) Weathering the layoff. Long-term, the 9 days off will help the Flyers. (I know, I know, in the long term, we'll all be dead. But stick with me here.) The problem will be Game 1, especially in the first period of Game 1, when the Flyers are getting re-acclimated to the speed and the intensity of playoff hockey. The re-acclimation will happen quickly enough, but the start could be rough. People worry about goalie Brian Boucher, but I really don't. He's 33 now, not a kid, not given to hysterics. He'll handle it OK. But the rest of them will almost certainly be knocked on their heels early, especially on the road. And, well, put it this way: if I'm wrong and if the layoff has no detrimental effect in the first game, the Flyers might just cruise through this series.

2) Claude Giroux's increased profile. If you go by the lines that coach Peter Laviolette used in practice, Giroux could be moving up to play next to Mike Richards. His first-round production, plus the the injuries to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, dictate the move -- but it comes with a whole new set of risks. Specifically, Giroux might suddenly be living his life nose-to-nose with Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' cornerstone defenseman; acutally, nose-to-chest -- Chara is enormous -- but you get the point. Scoring on the power play and as a third-line player is one thing. Scoring against a shutdown defenseman is another thing entirely.

3) The penalty box door. You know how, in the first round, we all talked about how important it was for the Flyers to stay out of the penalty box against the Devils -- after which, the Flyers took 32 penalties (the most by any team in the first round of the playoffs) and still wiped New Jersey off of the map. Well, we're going to say it again: fewer penalties are a must. And this time we really mean it. The Bruins are great penalty killers and the Flyers are not likely to be as effective killing penalties without Ian Laperriere and Gagne -- which means the special-teams advantage will not tilt to the Flyers as clearly as it did in Round 1. Besides, the Flyers were great playing 5-on-5 in the first round. Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn were not on the ice for an even-strength goal, and Chris Pronger was out for only one (in the third period of Game 1). Their best shot here is 5-on-5.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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