And the series winner will be...

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….


  1. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov continues the remarkable late-season run, one that peaked with a 249:43 scoreless streak last month.
  2. With six rookies expected to be in their lineup, the Flyers will be hungrier than the been-there-done-that Penguins.
  3. 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.
  4. The Flyers get into the heads of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with their physical play on the two superstars.
  5. 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


  1. Experience. The Penguins have a veteran lineup, one that includes 11 players who were on Pittsburgh’s 2009 Stanley Cup champion team.
  2. 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.)
  3. The Penguins have more firepower. They led the NHL in goals, even though Crosby played just 22 games.
  4. 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.
  5. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s playoff pedigree sways the series in the Pens’ favor. He has won eight playoff series in his young career.


     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.

     Your pick?