April 25, 2011

Bring on the Bruins.

There's not much left to say about this grueling series between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres.

The hubbub over the Mike Richards hit? Idle chatter. Richards wasn't getting suspended, and Tim Connolly should learn to keep his head up. It was a two-minute minor with an unfortunate outcome, nothing more.

The Flyers goalie controversy? Nonexistent, finally. Michael Leighton's been cast back into the abyss; I fully expect to see Sergei Bobrovsky backing up starter Brian Boucher on Tuesday night. For better or worse, Boosh is the man.

Chris Pronger's return? Irrelevant. Four minutes and thirty-three seconds of playing time. Two penalty minutes. A welcome sight on the power play, but very few on-ice contributions. God only knows if he'll make more of an impact on Tuesday; he's the ultimate wild card.

All that's left is one more game, a matchup that will probably be the most straightforward of the series. The Flyers had the better regular season; they get home ice. The Sabres have the better goalie; that might make them the popular prediction.

But why would Buffalo win this game? Why should they? They've looked solid but unspectacular, hardly a combination that wins in the postseason. Riding a hot goalie has taken lesser teams further, but Miller's been decidedly mortal in every Flyers win.

Meanwhile, Peter Laviolette has swapped goalies like a drunken sailor. The power play (9.7%) has been abysmal, and the penalty kill (77.8%) hasn't been much better. Jeff Carter's missed the last two games with an injury; the only forwards that show up every night are Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk. And yet, the series returns to Philadelphia all knotted up.

Simply put, if the Sabres were any good, they'd have beaten the Flyers already. They aren't, so they won't. Bring on the Bruins.

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