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NHL Playoffs

Posted 3:22 PM ET | Comments 13
I am not sure how this happened? The Caps did get hot at the end of the season and they do have a great player to watch. But now all the pundits are picking them by a surprising margin to beat Philly. I even read the Hockey News where they gave the edge in defensemen to the Caps because of Green. Now he has had a nice year, but so did Coburn and Jones for the Flyers. Oh by the way the Flyers have the best defenseman on either team in Timmonen.

Listen the Caps are a nice story, but let's all be honest. They are the weakest link in the Eastern Conference. They played, by far, the EASIEST schedule in the entire league and barely got into the playoffs. Their number 3 seed is a facade! They played 32 of 82 games (that is almost 40%) against Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina and Atlanta. Everyone in the league cleaned up on those teams this year.

So now let's look at things objectively.

Forwards:
The Flyers are no longer a one line team. They are not even a two line team. They are now the most balanced scoring team in the league. All three centers Briere, Carter and Richards had 28 or more goals. Oh yeah they have Knuble, Hartnell and Lupul that all cracked the 20 goal mark too. That is balance. The Caps have Ovechkin at 65 then 26 and 21. That is a one line team folks. And as much fun as AO is to watch, one line teams get beat in the playoffs regularly. Balance is the key. Advantage PHILLY

Defense:
The Flyers are deeper, more experienced and faster than Washington. They boast Timmonen, Coburn, Smith, Hatcher. I will go out on a limb and say the #7 and #8 Defensemen from Philly would play in the top 2 pairs on Washington (Kuukonen and Parent). Advantage PHILLY

Special Teams:
Both teams have good powerplay units. But again the depth at forward gives the advantage. Simon Gagne who missed almost the entire season would be 4th on the Caps in powerplay goals. The main difference here is the 2nd unit. Washington is a hardworking group, but the Flyers put Carter, Lupul, etc on the ice. Advantage: PHILLY

Coaching:
With this being the first trip to the big dance, this is a push. Both coaches have had success at the AHL level. Advantage: PUSH

Goaltending:
This is the closest of all categories for the simple reason. Neither Huet or Biron has ever won a playoff series. Huet is 2-4 and Biron is 0-0. Kolzig has, but unless Huet lays an egg, we won't see him. Advantage: WASHINGTON

Momentum:
Everyone is talking about the great turnaround of the Caps, but the Flyers are in an impressive turnaround of their own. They were the worst team in the league last season and improved by over 40 points this year. The Caps started the first month badly and rebounded, again versus the weakest schedule in the league. Both teams are hot as the playoffs start as well. Advantage: PUSH

So now the prediction. The Flyers will win this with their better balance. They also have more key players with playoff experience. Briere, Hatcher, Smith were big players on teams that have gone deep into the playoffs. Hockey is a team game and Flyers fans know that even the great Eric Lindros could not deliver playoff games by himself. He won scoring titles, MVP, etc. But in the playoffs the better team wins. Flyers in 6
Filed Under:   Flyers   Capitals   Playoffs  
April 8, 2008 4:41 PM ET | Delete
I will leave it to the pundits to provide an "objective" analysis, not a Flyers fan who clearly doesn't know anything about the opponent.
April 8, 2008 4:44 PM ET | Delete
Hey, you're entitled to your opinion, but unless you rid yourself of the obvious homerism, no one's going to take this post seriously. You do make some valid points; but on the whole this was way too subjective.Forwards: Balance? All well and good, but even when teams tried to shut down AO, they didn't. He's that good. Add in Backstrom, Semin, even Federov, they may not have the depth of Philly, but they have the punch.Defense: Not familiar enough with either team's D, but if you're claiming Smith and Hatcher are fast, I'll just stop reading now.Special teams: Names on paper only mean so much. I'll wait to see who gets their PP going.Goaltending: Huet obviously the better goaltender but I agree that the experience of winning a series is very important. If Biron stands on his head Philly could steal the series.Momentum: Washington by far. Finished on a tear, and if you want to discredit that 3 seed, Philly only had 1 more point than Washington. With AO finally in the playoffs, and D.C. finally supporting their team, Philly will not win in Washington. If they don't get the first two at home, it's over.Prediction: Washington gets the split in Philly, takes 2 at home, wins in 6.
April 8, 2008 5:00 PM ET | Delete
LOL at rwrusso, yeah they wont win in washington, just like tehy didnt win in washington during the regular season right?How many goals did ovechkin have aginst the flyers this year? 3, given the success he has had against other teams, I'd say they did a pretty good job of taking care of him. YOu have enough nerve to say he has homerism while ignoring the facts that 1. Phill has more goals for in a much tougher diision including 8 games aginst the best goaltender to ever lace them up. 2. Philly has 7 20 goal scorers and several just beneath 30. 3. Philly has less goals against 4. Say what you want about getting the PP going, the season numbers say who did, and it was philly on both PP and the PK.Momentum WASHINGTON by far? LOL, by maybe a quarter of an inch. You beat shit teams to go on that tear, philly beat some of the best in the east.Yeah Huet is obviously the btter goaltender...um based on what?Your right on the PP names on paper only mean so much, the numbers mean more, and philly has the advantage. Odd that you would have the nerve to argue names on paper only mean so much, then use the names of people for your offensive punch, which is it? Either names mean something or they dont.You really think backstrom is going to be the player he was during the regular season if they manage to even contain ovechkin? What about semin, remember last year when he got played physical, got frustrated picked up the puck and threw it? If the caps win, it will be on the back of huet and ovechkin, and i expect ovechkin to be a shadow of what he was in the regular season because they will key in on him that much. He is by far the best player in the NHL, and the rest of the team feeds off of him, without him at his best, they just arent the same team.I have no doubt that washington has the ability to win this series, but to have enough nerve to say someone else is being blatanly homerish is quite hypocritical coming from you.
April 8, 2008 5:02 PM ET | Delete
haha wow, this one of if not the most biased posts i have seen on this site
April 8, 2008 5:44 PM ET | Delete
Pretty damn biased.But--I will say that Im shocked by all the people picking us. But who cares? The series is determined on the ice, not by words.
April 8, 2008 5:52 PM ET | Delete
Honest is that AO and the Caps are the senimental favs. You comparison on forwards is valid. Your comparison on Defense is unfounded. Did you time them in a race to conclude your D is faster. You have Smith and Hatcher. Probably the 2 slowest in the NHL. If you don't have hard data, just say they are even. That looks more agreeable to the reader. I'm assuming your PP an PK analysis is correct because I am too lazy to go see who had better ACTUAL statistics.
April 8, 2008 8:23 PM ET | Delete
@ob1murry: The funny thing is I'm not even a Caps fan, so no homerism here for me. I read some people's posts, and for claiming to be an "objective" look at this matchup I disagreed with many points. Like I said, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Philly fans are nearly as bad as Leafs, Sens, and Habs fans. At least they understand hockey. Can't wait for your fans to boo Briere, or Carter, or Richards, or whoever it is that doesn't perform.
April 8, 2008 8:46 PM ET | Delete
Well Philly had a top 10 PP and PK so they get special teams advantage no question.Huet had a .920 save % and Biron .918 so that is pretty close a push.Both coaches are basically rookies in there first playoffs so I'm not sure how either can get an advantage.As far as momentum Philly's last 10 games were against playoff teams and Washington's last 10 were mostly against non playoff teams.The game is played on the ice so who knows what will happen but I'm taking my Flyers in 6.
April 8, 2008 10:16 PM ET | Delete
What Buts16 said is very true... the Flyers played HUGE games and pulled out HUGE wins the last couple off weeks... Pens, Devils, Rangers.. all in the playoffs... and the Caps, well.. they played the weak southeast division... as much as the caps have won so many games in a row.. i give the momentum to the flyers because of their schedule and their effort at the end off the season.. Flyers in 7...
April 9, 2008 9:24 AM ET | Delete
Buts16, 3 of Philly's last 7 wins were against the Isles (twice) and Atlanta. I might be mistaken, but I don't believe those are playoff teams (so your claim that Philly's last 10 games were against playoff teams is not valid). Not to mention that many Philly fans are hammering the Pens for not playing Crosby in the final game supposedly because they were afraid to face Philly in the 1st round. If Pittsburgh didn't try to win the last game, that game can hardly be counted as a victory against a playoff team.
April 9, 2008 10:40 AM ET | Delete
Literacy is required. The post says the "the Flyers defense is deeper, faster and more experienced." This quote is true since the Flyers are much more seasoned in playoff hockey than the caps. Never in the post did I mention Hatcher or Smith as speedy. They are the experienced portion of the defense. The guys that know how to block shots, kill penalties, etc.
April 9, 2008 4:18 PM ET | Delete
Madcap I said 10 games not 10 wins. I was wrong anyway as 3 of the Flyers last 10 were against non playoff teams but out of the Caps last 10 and only 2 were against playoff teams and those 2 were Nashville and Boston who both finish 8th.
April 9, 2008 5:21 PM ET | Delete
Buts16, there are many valid reasons why one might pick Philly to win this series (as there are reasons why one might pick the Caps -- this is why I say the series probably goes 7 and the winner is a tossup) but getting hung up on the end of season schedule is not, in my opinion, one of them. The Caps played Carolina twice in the last six games -- though Carolina ultimately did not make the playoffs (missing by 2 points), they played as well as anybody in the East for the last quarter or so of the season. The Caps were in a must-win mode for the final 10 games (winning 9 of them). I don't care who you are playing, teams in this league are so even that it would be difficult to win 9 out of 10 against anybody.
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