LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 26, 2019
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Wales Conference Finals



PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (6) VS PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (2)


Kimmo Timonen
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Key Matchup: No word yet how the Flyers will approach checking Kid Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Personally, I think Kimmo Timonen is the ideal defender to try and mark Crosby. Timonen has the intelligence and speed to keep up, and he's not so overly physical as to piss off Sid. You don't want to see Sid when he's angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

The other option is to match Timonen and Braydon Coburn against Malkin, using Coburn's size as a more natural fit with Geno the Scoring Mahine-o, while Mike Richards is given the assignment on Crosby. The problem is Timonen is the only Flyer defender with the wheels capable of staying even remotely close to Crosby. Randy Jones can skate, but, well, he's Randy Jones. If Michel Therrien can somehow manage to get Crosby out on the ice against the cement-footed Derian Hatcher and Jason Smith, it could get ugly.

But I gotta give Therrien credit. In Game Five against the Rangers, he actually embraced line matching, getting Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi against Jaromir Jagr on all but three of Puff Nuts' even-strength shifts. As a result, Jagr was held without a shot. Yeah, it was crazy. It was almost like the Penguins had an NHL coach!

There's really no one man for the Pens to target defensively. The Flyers have exceptional scoring depth throughout the lineup, but no one is even remotely approaching the level of Jagr.


Players to Watch: Not R.J. Umberger. The Plum native had eight goals against Montreal, but those halcyon days are solid gone. That outburst was due more to Carey Price's pitiful play than anything else. I'm setting the over-under on Umberger goals at one. And I'm taking the under.

This series will be the Kid Crosby Show. In 20 career games against the Flyers, Sid has 16 goals and 37 points. He went goalless against the Blueshirts, but the Rangers are an exceptional defensive team. The Flyers? Not so much. They were giving up 35 shots a game against the Habs. That's music to Sid's ears. And Martin Biron isn't Henrik Lundqvist. I'll be disappointed with anything less than five goals and 10 points for the series.


Prediction: I am stunned by all the people saying this is gonna be close. These are two distinct classes of clubs. The Penguins are a truly elite team. The Flyers are not.

And while everyone is banking on the Broad Street bully nonsense, I got news for ya. The Penguins are tougher than the Flyers. Gary Roberts will make Steve Downie run up a tree. And if the Flyers get silly, the Pittsburgh power play will promise a quick and thorough annihilation.

After facing the Rangers and Lundqvist, this series will be like a jailbreak for the Penguins. Expect goals early and often. I'm talkin' shock and awe type stuff.

It should really be a sweep, but I'll give the Flyers one game. C'mon, it's for charity!

Pittsburgh in five.





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