On Thursday the two teams head back to Philadelphia, where the Flyers find themselves in a two game hole against a high-flying Chicago Blackhawks team. After a goal bonanza in game one, the two teams settled down and put together a defensive battle in game two that saw the Blackhawks take a 2-1 win.
The Blackhawks have won seven straight games on the road and will look to sweep for consecutive rounds when they arrive in Philadelphia.
Here are some thoughts after the first two games:
- The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t be luckier in the long-term; they have a number of solid goaltending options with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher currently battling it out for the starter’s job in the next game. After another strong display by Leighton, I would tip him to start Game 3.
- Daniel Carcillo got back to his antagonizing ways in Game 2 (So much so that my friend watching with me commented: I didn’t realise Avery played for the Flyers…) and look for more of the same going forward; he was able to get under the skin of Ben Eager and could be effective in knocking the young, inexperienced Chicago players off their game.
- Chris Pronger is a animal beast monster. Looking at footage from the first two games, he has manhandled Byfuglien and that’s shown up on the score board as the influential winger has 1 points so far this series and has a -2 +/- so far this series.
- I don’t think that Jeff Carter has fully recovered from the injury that almost knocked him out of the Olympics and his choice to go to Vancouver may cost his team. He has been a shadow of his normal crafty self and has only 4 goals and 2 assists, with a -2 +/- this post season.
- To be a champion you need to win when you don’t play well and that is exactly what Chicago did in game 1. They didn’t play solid defensively but still managed to out-gun the Flyers and that’s a scary thought.
- Another BIG THUMBS UP to Chris Pronger for doing whatever he can to get an edge in the psychological warfare of the playoffs. In a move that would make Jeremy Roenick proud, after both games he picked up the game puck before any Blackhawk could get near it. Now I realise you purists out there think this is a jerk move, but it’s a great way to get under the skin of a young Blackhawk team that will surely look to get back at him and might even take a penalty or two. So good on you Pronger, keep doing what you do!
Finally: Don’t count out the Broad Street Bullies.
Remember when these same Flyers had been written off after going down three games to none against the Bruins in the first round?
How about when all the pundits were saying there was ‘no chance’ those Flyers could compete with the great Halak and the blocked shot champs in Montreal?
This Philadelphia Flyers team has aged a number of seasons in this playoff stretch and they’ve already had to battle for their lives a number of times. I wouldn’t count them out just yet and look for some rough, wild and hard-hitting Flyer’s hockey in game four back at the Wachovia center.
Sticking by my prediction: Flyers winning in seven.
Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.