Broad Street versus Broadway.
This rivalry began many years ago and remains just as hate-filled today as it ever was. Thursday night the puck drops on age-old rivals who have not met in 17 years in the postseason.
The Flyers come into this match-up forced to face their own house of horrors as they have been losers of their past 8 in New York. They will need this streak to end if they have any hopes of advancing further in their quest for Lord Stanley. All streaks must come to an end, right?
There are many reasons to believe the Flyers can pull of a huge victory in this series. One of the biggest being their offense is firing on all cylinders right now. They boast 7 20-goal scorers and pose many mismatches with this NYR defense. While they are a very talented group they face very few forward groups as strong as this Philadelphia team.
Led by the Captain, Claude Giroux, the Flyers offense begins with this man. He needs to find ways to score or at least create space for Voracek and Hartnell. Hartnell and Voracek both need to continue their scoring success in the postseason and fight through the tight checking games.
The 2nd line is led by the Wayne Train. Wayne Simmonds scored a career high 29 goals this season and is expected to provide a strong net presence throwing Lundvquist off his game and burying key goals. Brayden Schenn and a combination of Rafl, Lecavalier and McGinn must create chances off the rush and develop a strong net presence early on in this series.
The shutdown line lead by Sean Couturier will need to keep Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis at bay in this series. By doing this they will greatly reduce the Rangers offensive zone time and put themselves in a better situation to control the tempo.
Of course coming into the series goaltending is a problem. Wouldn't be playoff time in Philly if it weren't. This is a new issue for the Flyers as Steve Mason, who most likely has a concussion, is iffy for Game 1 on Thursday night. Sustaining the injury in Saturday's 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh, Berube may need to turn to Emery for this opening game. Emery is 7-3-0 lifetime versus the blueshirts which gives some hope he will turn in a strong performance if called upon.
For too many years, Flyers fans have sat home and watched other cities parade around with the Stanley Cup. Why not us? This year has a special feel to it. Claude Giroux gathered his troops and led them on a mission to the playoffs. Now, it is time he rallies the gang again. This time the pursuit is much greater. It is time for Lord Stanley to return to the streets of Philadelphia and be greeted by generations of fans who know heartache all too well.
It is now a time to believe. A time to believe in Broad Street conquering Broadway, in a Captain leading the way and to believe in the power of a City behind their team.