It’s a Round Two Rematch: Flyers vs. Bruins

The Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup between the Flyers and Bruins should be a good one, mainly because the Bruins will be looking to avenge last year’s loss in the Eastern Semis after holding a three games to none lead – only the third time it has happened in NHL history.

The Flyers head into the series in pretty good shape. Consider: (1) It seems that they’ve figured out the goalie situation. Brian Boucher is the guy. For whatever strange reason, they went to Michael Leighton in Game 6 of the first round and he gave up a couple bad goals. He wasn’t even dressed for Game 7 as Sergei Bobrovsky was the backup and “Leights” wasn’t even in the building. Boosh is the man for better or worse – I’d say better. he’s largely played well this season and bested Ryan Miller in round one.

(2) The Flyers seem to have gotten their playoff legs. They started slowly in the Buffalo series but got better as the series wore on, winning Games 6 and 7. In fact, they played their best game of the season in the deciding game, dominating the Sabres with wave after wave of Orange attack, winning battles for pucks, and allowing few scoring opportunities. Now that they’ve established their playoff persona, it should be easier for them to continue to do the things that a team needs to do to win a series.

(3) Chris Pronger is back. He played over 20 minutes in Game 7 after only a few minutes on the power play in Game 6, and his injured hand appears to be getting stronger. A Chris Pronger who is able to play at 85-90% will be immensely helpful and even necessary as the Flyers seek to advance.

(4) The money players have stepped up. Danny Briere had a great series and the Flyers got the production from Mike Richards, Scott hartnell, and Ville Leino when they’ve needed it. James Van Riemsdyk is coming into his own before our eyes in these playoffs. He was a major force in every game of Round 1 and has grown into the power forward the Flyers expected when they drafted him.

If the goaltending holds up, the defense continues to play tight, and the Flyers get the balanced scoring they’ve had all season, they should be able to take Boston once again. It will be a long series as the teams are fairly evenly matched, but the Flyers’ depth and scoring should carry them in another seven game series.

I was seven for eight in my first round predictions – you’ll have to take my word on that because I didn’t get time to post them before things started. I missed Nashville over Anaheim but had Tampa over Pittsburgh in seven. Here’s my predictions for Round 2:

Flyers over Boston in 7

Washington over Tampa in 7 – Tampa’s 1-2-2 or 1-4 system will give the Caps trouble, but Washington has the goaltending and defensive system plus enough scoring up front to overcome.

Vancouver over Nashville in 5 – The Predators won their first ever playoff series but won’t take the offensively stronger Canucks.

Detroit over San Jose in 7 – I could see this one going either way but will take the rested Red Wings.

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