The two-time fortifying Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins start their query for 3 with home-ice advantage. That’s clutch. Pittsburgh boasted a best home record (30-9-2) in a Eastern Conference.
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The Philadelphia Flyers, meanwhile, carnivorous off early adversity — doesn’t that 10-game losing strain feel like perpetually ago? — to put together a excellent season. GM Ron Hextall‘s organisation is nearing forward of schedule.
The rivals haven’t faced off in a playoffs in 6 years (a 4-2 Flyers array win). Thanks to a rotating expel — generally on a Flyers’ side — some of a nastiness from that array has certainly subsided. But there’s always a possibility it resurfaces.
First line. Philadelphia’s tip line facilities a Hart Trophy claimant in Claude Giroux and a Selke Trophy front-runner in Sean Couturier. Not too shabby. Pittsburgh’s tip line, as usual, facilities Sidney Crosby and wings du jour. Never bonus Crosby, a remarkable playoff performer who has been a Flyer torpedo this deteriorate (nine points in 4 games). Jake Guentzel didn’t have a dermatitis deteriorate many approaching after final postseason, though he still has a large diversion reputation. Advantage: Flyers
Depth. The Penguins got a large boost during a trade deadline with a further of Derick Brassard, giving them one of a tip core trios in a league. Defensive depth, however, is a large problem. Pittsburgh has a common blue-line group, though depth. But they still seem forward of a Flyers, who have relied on a lot of immature players this season. That abyss regard also extends to a net, always a problem area in Philly. Advantage: Penguins
Defense. This is Pittsburgh’s biggest area of weakness. If they don’t allege in these playoffs, it will be since of a miss of peculiarity defensemen locking things down in front of Matt Murray. The Flyers are somewhat above a joining normal in permitting 2.88 goals per diversion — that is considerable deliberation their common goaltending woes. Second-year defenseman Ivan Provorov is one to watch out for in particular. Advantage: Flyers
Goaltending. It has been an unsuitable deteriorate for Murray, though all he needs to do is get prohibited like he did in final year’s playoffs, and child was he prohibited (22 twins in 31 starts; a 1.95 goals-against normal and a .928 save percentage.) For a Flyers, goaltending is a doubt symbol — as usual. Brian Elliott will get a early nod, though would anyone be astounded if one of his backups ends adult saying time in net? Advantage: Penguins
Special teams. At times this season, a Penguins’ energy play has looked unstoppable (it’s tops in a joining during 26.2 percent). That has been generally loyal in games opposite Philadelphia: In their four-game array this season, a Penguins were 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) on a energy play while a Flyers were only 2-for-16 (12.5 percent). The Flyers’ common power-play weapon, Wayne Simmonds, hasn’t looked like his widespread self on a unit. Philly’s chastisement kill is among a misfortune in a joining during 75.8 percent. Advantage: Penguins
Coaching. During a team’s 10-game losing strain progressing this season, there was conjecture that manager Dave Hakstol competence be fired. My, how times have changed. While it’s considerable that he incited things around, his record doesn’t compare adult with Mike Sullivan, who has engineered a two-time fortifying Cup champion. Advantage Penguins
Health. Third-line core Derick Brassard is critical to this lineup, and he’s now operative his approach behind from a lower-body injury. The Flyers welcomed tip goalie Brian Elliott behind from a long-term injury, that should be earnest news. Advantage: Flyers
Series pick: Penguins in five.