Tuukka Rask may not be a household name in Philadelphia, but it sure is in Buffalo. The Bruins goaltender outplayed Buffalo's Ryan Miller and is the primary reason Boston won that series in six games.
And while the Flyers' first-round win was easier, it also was more costly (Jeff Carter, Ian Laperriere, Simon Gagne). Conversely, the Bruins should get a boost with the return of playmaker Marc Savard, who has missed the last 24 games with a concussion.
Must confess to taking the Devils in the last round, which makes this pick - and 75 cents - worth enough to buy tomorrow's paper.
Bruins in 6.
The Bruins have home ice. The Bruins have their best passer, Marc Savard, back after a 24-game absence with a concussion. They just beat the best goalie in hockey, rolling over Buffalo's Ryan Miller.
They have a chip on their collective shoulder, having been bounced in the second round last season as a No. 1 seed.
They have to beat a Flyers team that snuck into the playoffs, then drew the only team they matched up well against. No problem.
Bruins in 5.
It seems to me that there are four pillars upon which any success the Flyers might have against the Bruins will have to be built: Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen. All four of them are healthy and rested and playing at a very high level. It seems to me that this is more important than the losses of Jeff Carter, Ian Laperriere and Simon Gagne (and that is not meant to minimize the losses at all).
The penalty-kill was outstanding in Round 1 against the Devils. In the absence of Laperriere and Gagne, it cannot hope to be as good - which means the Flyers really have to stop taking penalties. The power play was very good in Round 1 as well, but the Bruins completely shut down Buffalo's power play in their opening-round series. Again, the Flyers cannot hope to have the same success.
Against the Devils, the Flyers were very good 5-on-5, controlling play more and more as the series wore on and the Devils wore down. Well, Boston is going to match them hit for hit - and they also have cornerstone defenseman Zdeno Chara. It will be physically harder to accomplish but 5-on-5 is where it will have to happen for the Flyers.
The Flyers fooled me in the first round. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Flyers in 6.
Without picking a specific matchup - or rooting against a potential opponent - the Flyers secretly sat at home on Wednesday night wishing for the unthinkable: a series gag job by the Washington Capitals that would land the Flyers in Boston. For the second straight series, the Flyers got their wish.
In the first round, it was a matchup against the New Jersey Devils - a team they had beaten five out of six times in the regular season.
Now, the Flyers will face the sixth seed - a Bruins team they picked up points against in three out of four meetings in the regular season. This one will not be easy, not by any stretch, but it appears a lot more favorable than the alternative.
The Bruins' lackluster offense is not awe-inspiring. Aside from Zdeno Chara, the Bruins do not boast two shutdown defensemen like the Flyers.
As the sixth seed, the Bruins hold home-ice advantage. Or do they? They were just 18-17-6 at TD Garden this season. The Flyers were 24-14-3 at the Wachovia Center. Both teams were undefeated at home in the first round.
This is a much more even series than the first round, where I thought the Flyers held a clear advantage. If the Flyers defense and Brian Boucher play like they did in the first round, it won't matter if Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Laperriere are not on the ice.
Flyers in 6. *
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Barkowitz: Pittsburgh in 6
Hayes: Pittsburgh in 6
Hofmann: Pittsburgh in 6
Seravalli: Pittsburgh in 6
Barkowitz: Detroit in 7
Hayes: Detroit in 6
Hofmann: Detroit in 6
Seravalli: San Jose in 6
Barkowitz: Vancouver in 6
Hayes: Vancouver in 7
Hofmann: Vancouver in 7