Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bad Blood

We were going to do a preview of this series (honest) but after writing half of it, we realized that the Peerless had already done the analysis, and done a better job of it. Take a look at it. Here he writes a key:

There is absolutely no secret to this series, if the season series is an indicator. Of the 23 goals scored by the Penguins in their eight games against the Flyers, either Crosby or Malkin, or both, scored or assisted on 18 of them, including 12 of the last 14.

But – and a significant “but” it is – the Penguins have spread the wealth a little more in the post season. While Crosby or Malkin have had a hand in 22 of the 31 goals so far, the goal scoring itself has been spread among 13 different skaters. 18 of 19 skaters who have dressed in the Penguin’s nine playoff games have points.

As the season series went: if the Pens got the Flyers to the box, they took advantage of those opportunities and won. If not, the Flyers would probably win. As Dr. Mirtle points out, Philadelphia is the most penalized team still remaining.

Perhaps it's just reputation, but the Flyers are still thought of as the big bad team that runs over and through opponents. This isn't really true, the Flyers average height and weight on their roster has been less than Washington and it will be less than Pittsburgh. Philly sports some rough and tumble players like Jason Smith (6'3", 215 lbs, 34 hits, 37 blocked shots in 12 playoff games) and Scott Hartnell (6'2, 210, 27 hits) but they also have players like good old Danny Briere and Vinny Prospal that beat you with skill, not brute.

Much has been made about RJ Umberger (who had at least one goal in every game in the Montreal series) and his homecoming to Pittsburgh. Even before he was lighting up the playoffs, Umberger has seemed to always feast on his boyhood team; he has 18 points in 25 regular season games against the Penguins (.72 points/game) compared to 98 points in 203 reg. season games not against Pittsburgh (.48 points/game).

With all the (deserved) praise going to Umberger and Briere (8g, 6a in 12 games), it's surprising that a guy like Jeff Carter (4g, 5a, +6) is slipping through the cracks. From observing Philly first-hand, Carter's had a great playoff and while some outstanding performances may be outshining him at the moment, he's a guy that plays hard and plays well and makes good things happen.

Philadelphia wasn't thought too highly of by outside observers because on Martin Biron, but he left all the doubters in the dust by raising his game up to neutralize a very dangerous Montreal team. A comment was made on Japers Rink almost a month ago that has stuck with us...

I'm beginning to think I'm the only person in the hockey world not in awe of Martin Biron.....Was he good? Sure. Great? No. Good enough? That's all that matters, isn't it? But he's still the same Marty Biron that stopped just 22 of 27 shots on Friday night.

We agreed then, and even though Biron earned and deserves respect for doing enough to beat the Caps, and then robbing the Habs several times, it just feels like he's still just Marty Biron and can't keep lasting forever. Perhaps the long layoff will stop his momentum, perhaps not. Time will tell.

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