Upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs
The NHL schedule maker did the Penguins no favor this season by scheduling two regular season games with the Flyers heading into an eventual 4th seed vs. 5th seed playoff series.
At this point, the only question is if the series will start in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. Home ice can be viewed as a little overrated because sometimes when the home team is behind in the score, their own fans tend to turn on them. At the end of Sundays nationally televised game, the bickering between the coaching staffs may have been a preclude of upcoming games. In his post game comments, Flyer coach Peter Laviolette called the Pens Joe Vitale "gutless" for laying a perfectly clean check on Flyer forward Daniel Briere. Brayden Schenn then had the gall to attack Vitale after the hit, even after he was called for a cheap shot cross-checking penalty to Sidney Crosby.
Schenn never served his penalty because of a reviewed goal by Steve Sullivan earlier erased it. The Flyers eventually won the game and continued their Consol Energy Center dominance over the Pens by improving to 5-0 in Pittsburgh. That being the case, it may behoove the Pens to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the City of Brothers on Drugs. Although, the special teams of the Penguins haven't been as sharp of late, that and the play of the goaltenders will determine the victor.
Pens Coach Dan Bylsma's insistence of putting 5 forwards on the power play brings high risk as well as rewards. He mentioned that he will use defenseman Kris Letang on the power play unit in the playoffs. Should high priced Flyer goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov miss the playoffs with his broken foot, untested backup Sergei Bobrovsky will be Philadelphia's weak link. There is a reason that Bobrovsky has been the backup and the need for Philadelphia to acquire Bryzgalov. The Flyers have been searching for a capable, reliable goalie ever since Bernie Parent retired. It has been a long 37 years since the Flyers raised a SC Championship banner.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs is played on a different level, whereby the seasoned Penguin squad should thrive. Last year, they came within one win of moving to the 2nd round playing without superstar centers, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. If the Penguins are finally cured from the injury bug that have plagued them all season, their 4th Stanley Cup Championship is attainable, despite the cheap play of their hated rival.