Another mega-series in the East brings us the Battle of Pennsylvania, as the Flyers and Penguins follow up on their 2008 Eastern Conference Finals matchup last season.
This year's Art Ross Trophy winner, Evgeni Malkin, was accused of running out of gas during the playoffs last year against Detroit. Can he top his 10 goals and 12 assists in 20 games?
One interesting aspect about these two teams is the nature of their goal scoring. The Flyers boast five forwards with 25 goals or more, but the dropoff after that point is tremendous. The Penguins, meanwhile have 13 players on their roster with at least 10 goals. Over the course of a long series, might that depth make a difference?
|2008 - Martin Biron||55||3177||29||19||5||2||146||2.76||1718||1572||.915||2|
|2008 - Antero Niittymaki||32||1805||15||8||6||1||83||2.76||947||864||.912||1|
|2008 - Marc-Andre Fleury||62||3641||35||18||7||5||162||2.67||1850||1688||.912||4|
No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:
|Philadelphia||Penalties Drawn||Pittsburgh||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Daniel Carcillo||59||59||0||Evgeni Malkin||62||39||+23|
|Scott Hartnell||48||61||-13||Sidney Crosby||43||29||+14|
|Mike Richards||44||24||+20||Matt Cooke||30||35||-5|
|Arron Asham||36||37||-1||Eric Godard||29||39||-10|
|Riley Cote||34||34||0||Jordan Staal||28||17||+11|
|Joffrey Lupul||26||26||0||Chris Kunitz||27||27||0|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Scott Hartnell||48||61||-13||Evgeni Malkin||62||39||+23|
|Daniel Carcillo||59||59||0||Eric Godard||29||39||-10|
|Braydon Coburn||19||38||-19||Matt Cooke||30||35||-5|
|Arron Asham||36||37||-1||Brooks Orpik||25||34||-9|
|Riley Cote||34||34||0||Bill Guerin||22||30||-8|
|Jeff Carter||19||34||-15||Sidney Crosby||43||29||+14|
This is going to be an incredibly spirited affair, but in the end I like the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are playing well under new coach Dan Bylsma, and I think the difference here will be special teams; the Flyers just take too many penalties, and the Penguins should be able to make them pay for it.