Last year Philly came into the playoff series against the Penguins with the intention of pounding them into the boards on every shift - and it the process - they hoped to pound the life out of Pittsburgh.
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The result...Pens won the series in 5 games.
A couple of years earlier, in a regular season match-up in Philly, Derrian Hatcher pounded on the face of, then rookie, Sidney Crosby. Crosby left the game to have some patchwork done, only to return later and score the game winning goal.
As I read what experts believe the Flyers should do against the Penguins this playoff series, I am again struck by the multiple "pound them into submission" suggestions.
Honestly, I don't get it.
Based on what we have seen in the past, the Penguins seem to respond BETTER when another team tries to hit them at every turn.
Granted, this year's club is not the same as last year's, but with the recent additions of Kunitz and Guerin, and the improved play of the entire team in the defensive zone and with respect to the physical elements of the game since coach Bylsma took over, I really expect that this team will react in very much the same way that last year's team did.
Maybe I am giving away a major secret, but I feel that the Flyers BEST approach to winning this series would be to go with more "lull them to sleep" - and have a little bit of "pound them into submission" mixed in for good measure.
The Pens lost to Detroit in the finals. There are a lot of reasons why that happened and chief among them was that the Red Wings simply were the superior team. But another aspect that I found interesting was that, aside from a few well placed checks by everybody's favorite "hit 'em at the blueline" defenseman, Niklas Kronwall, I really didn't think the Red Wings played as physical a series as Philly did against us. Of course, the Wings outskated the Pens for most of the time during the 6 games, so a major physical element was simply not necessary for the Red Wings to win.
But it may also be that the right balance of skill and physical play is what it takes to beat the Pens.
The question is, can Philly find that balance? Do they have a way to regulate themselves so that they can apply both in an equally effective way?
I think they have what it takes...just not sure they have figured out the right amounts of each.
If the Flyers take the "overly physical" approach to this series, I think it would be a mistake and they will lose.
If they find a happy medium, I think it will be one hell of a 7 game series and anybody can win it.
Anybody think I might be onto something here?
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