Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flyers turn Penguins aside, solidify playoff position

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In a possible preview of the first round of the playoffs, the Flyers had a nice all-around effort as they downed the Penguins 3-1. It was a big win for the Flyers on National TV as they further solidified their hold on the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference. They are now up 2 points on the Pens with 3 games in hand.

The Flyers got two goals on the power play, one by Simon Gagne and the other by Scott Hartnell, and Darroll Powe later added an empty net goal. Marty Biron also continued his strong play of late by stopping 27 of 28 shots. He is certainly rounding back into the form he showed in last years playoff run.

Even more notable for the Flyers was their defensive effort. While the Flyers were outshot 28-20, the didn't allow a shot on goal by either of the Pens star players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While that's probably a bit of a stasticial anomaly and may never happen again, the Flyers did a good job of keeping two top scorers in the league from getting inside and firing away.

If the season ended today, the Flyers would face these same Penguins in the first round. Barring a late season dive, Philly appears pretty locked in to the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. With three teams within two points of one another, there will be a battle for the 5th spot between the Pens, Hurricanes and Rangers. As much as I would love watching an early Keystone State series in the playoffs, I think I speak for most Flyers fans when I say that I hope the Pens take a dive and Philly gets to play anyone else in the first round. A battle with Pittsburgh would be fun, but it would be an actual battle with a ton of attrition for whichever team manages to survive into the second round. A nice easy series against someone like the Rangers is a much better way to start a nice, long playoff run.

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