PITTSBURGH _ The Flyers and Penguins, arguably the NHL’s most fierce rivals, will open their delicious best-of-seven series in Pittsburgh on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Which team will win the series? Read on….
5 REASONS WHY THE FLYERS COULD WIN:
- Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov continues the remarkable late-season run, one that peaked with a 249:43 scoreless streak last month.
- With six rookies expected to be in their lineup, the Flyers will be hungrier than the been-there-done-that Penguins.
- Danny Briere and Nick Grossmann return to form after missing the last three regular-season games because of injuries sustained in hits by the Pens’ Joe Vitale. Briere has been Mr. Post-Season in his career, and Grossmann was a shutdown defenseman before his injury.
- The Flyers get into the heads of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with their physical play on the two superstars.
- The Flyers had better special teams than the Penguins while winning four of six games against them in the regular season _ and that trend continues. The Flyers’ PP was 6 for 29 (20.6 percent) against the Penguins, while Pittsburgh was 3 for 22 (13.6 percent) against the Orange and Black
FIVE REASONS WHY THE PENGUINS COULD WIN
- Experience. The Penguins have a veteran lineup, one that includes 11 players who were on Pittsburgh’s 2009 Stanley Cup champion team.
- Home-ice advantage. Pittsburgh had more home points than any Eastern Conference team this season, going 29-10-2 for 60 points at the Consol Energy Center. (The Pens are just 1-5 vs. the Flyers at CEC, but they will be much tougher there during the REAL season.)
- The Penguins have more firepower. They led the NHL in goals, even though Crosby played just 22 games.
- Crosby, motivated by barbs thrown at him by Flyers assistant Craig Berube, Rangers coach John Tortorella and broadcasters Don Cherry and Mike Milbury, goes on a scoring tear.
- Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s playoff pedigree sways the series in the Pens’ favor. He has won eight playoff series in his young career.
MY PICK IS…..
Though I wouldn’t be shocked if the Flyers won it, I think Pittsburgh’s firepower will wear them down, and Crosby will be the difference-maker.
Penguins in seven.