Watching the Flyers play the Canadiens in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals has made sick.
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Every goal that has been scored, every save that has been made, each shift that has been played...has taken me one step closer to wanting to "hurl" on my living room floor.
As a lifelong Penguins fan, isn't that the natural reaction you would expect from watching your long time adversary dismantle, through two games at least, the Canadiens team that just ousted your favorite "former" Stanley Cup Champion Penguins from the playoffs?
While the reaction might be exactly what you would expect from someone who actually knows the name of Penguins players from before Lemieux played in this town, the reasons for it might come as somewhat of a surprise to you.
I don't want to vomit because the Flyers are winning, I want to vomit because of how the Flyers are playing well on so many levels (just like the Penguins of 2008-09) and how they are reminding me of how the 2009-10 version of the Penguins failed on almost every one of these levels.
The Flyers are playing with a confidence, intensity and tenacity that, simply put, is overwhelming the Canadiens to this point in the series.
...forechecking with authority and purpose
...finishing their checks
...generating offensive chances from hard work along the boards
...getting traffic in front of Halak
...activating their defenders to keep the play alive in the offensive zone
...providing puck side support for their activated defenders
...playing good positional hockey in all three zones
...scoring power play goals at key times
...getting great goaltending
As much as it pains me to say it...and has me almost to the point of regurgitation, this year's playoff Flyers ARE everything this year's playoff Penguins WERE NOT.
Where the 2009-10 version of the Penguins did so many things wrong...the 2009-10 version of the Flyers are Doing So Many Things Right.
The Flyers are doing an excellent job of activating their D to keep the Canadiens from exiting the opposite side of the ice. So many times against the Penguins, the Canadiens would be "attacked" by the Pens on one side, only to find and easy outlet on the other side of the ice. The Flyers defensemen are coming up ice to slow down or eliminate that outlet...to kill that attempted rush...and at the same time, their forwards are getting into position to defend. Outstanding work.
The Flyers appear to be skating twice as fast as the Penguins did. Obviously, when a team has confidence, it shows in how they skate. There have been very few times during the first 2 games when you could look at the TV and not see multiple Flyer players actively involved in the play (offensive or defensive). The Penguins had multiple times during their series where you EXPECTED another Penguin to appear and cut off a play...or pick up a free puck...or defend an opponent...only to shake your head in disgust when one never showed up.
It still has the potential to be a long series...but if the Flyers can steal a game at the Bell Centre...I'll probably lose my lunch sooner than I expected.
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