NHL – Flyers vs. Sabres Playoff Preview

15 Apr

Due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to post the preview and prediction for the Stanley Cup opening round playoff series between Buffalo and Philadelphia until after game one was already completed. For that reason, I’ve decided to handicap the prediction by picking the loser of the opening game, the Flyers, to win the series. The two teams have switched roles since last season. In 2009-10, the Sabres won their division title and then proceeded to lose in the first round to the lower-seeded Boston Bruins. This year, they battled all the way to season’s end before finally clinching one of the 8 Eastern Conference spots, clinching the spot by beating the Flyers in overtime in the second-to-last game of the regular season. That was similar to the route the Flyers took to the playoffs last year. Of course, they then shocked the world by advancing all the way to the Cup Finals, where they lost to Patrick Kane and the Chicago Black Hawks. Included in their journey to the finals was a stunning seven game series win over Boston in which they dug themselves out of a 3-0 hole to win. That’s one reason why it’s not difficult to pick the Flyers to win this series, since a 1-0 deficit will hardly intimidate them. I made a point in a previous blog post that the Sabres haven’t proven to me that they have the mental toughness to win a long, grueling series, and that goaltender Ryan Miller has not proven to be the “All-World” netminder he’s hyped up to be. I’ll stand by those comments until proven to be wrong. Miller’s 35 save shutout win in the opener is a good start, but let’s see if he can sustain the high level of play for the entire series. Remember, in last year’s playoffs the Sabres won Game One at home and then pulled ahead in Game Two going into the third period, and in the regular season had been undefeated going into the third period with the lead. They lost to the Bruins in that game and blew another third period lead later in the series and never recovered. I’ll pick the resourceful Flyers to win the series in six games, despite the fact they weren’t playing their best going into the postseason.

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