2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Semifinals
#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #3 Boston Bruins
Best of Seven Series Format, 2-2-1-1-1
Saturday, April 30, 2011-Thursday, May 12, 2011
Series Price: Flyers -115 / Bruins -105 (odds courtesy of bookmaker)
Series Schedule (All times Eastern)
Saturday, April 30 at Philadelphia, 3:00 pm NBC, CBC
Monday, May 2 at Philadelphia, 7:30 pm Versus, TSN
Wednesday, May 4 at Boston, 7:00 pm Versus, CBC
Friday, May 6 at Boston, 8:00 pm Versus (JIP), CBC
*Sunday, May 8 at Philadelphia, 3:00 pm NBC, CBC
*Tuesday, May 10 at Boston, (TBD) Versus, CBC
*Thursday, May 12 at Philadelphia, (TBD) Versus, CBC
Last year these two teams met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was a memorable series in that Boston was the #6 seed and Philly was the #7 seed. The Bruins won the first three games of the series the Flyers stormed back to force a game 7. In game 7, the Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead and Philadelphia came back to win the game to become only the third hockey team to come back from an 0-3 series deficit to win the series. The Flyers advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Blackhawks in six games. Though the Bruins can’t help but think of last year’s epic collapse, they say it will be a learning experience.
Boston won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings. The Bruins won December 1 at Philadelphia 3-0. The Flyers won 2-1 in overtime December 11 at Boston. The Bruins won January 13 at Boston 7-5, and 2-1 in Philadelphia March 27. Boston is 10-9 against Philadelphia in the last 3 seasons. The over is 9-8-2 in those games.
Boston advanced to the semifinals by beating the arch-rival Canadiens in 7 grueling games. The Bruins lost the first two games of the series at home, and looked to be in trouble heading to Montreal. However they won 4 of the next 5 games to win the series. The last three wins in the series for the Bruins were overtime victories, including 4-3 in the deciding 7th game. The Bruins were outscored 17-15 in the series. Remarkably, the Bruins were 0 for 21 on the power play and still won the series against Montreal. The Bruins gave up 6 goals to the Canadiens on the power play in 27 tries.
Philadelphia also went seven games in their series against Buffalo. Five of the seven games were decided by one goal including 2 overtime games. Philadelphia was down 3-2 heading into game 6 in Buffalo. Buffalo was up 3-0 before the Flyers came back to win in overtime, 5-4. In game 7, the Flyers jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back as they romped 5-2. Despite being shut out in 2 games, Philadelphia outscored the Sabres 22-18. The Flyers had 5 power play goals in 35 chances against Buffalo. They gave up 7 to the Sabres in31 power play chances.
For Boston, defenseman Andrew Ference will not be suspended for a hit to the head of Montreal’s Jeff Halpern in Tuesday’s game 6. Defensemen Steven Kampfer is doubtful with a knee injury for game #1 against the Flyers. Center Marc Savard is out for the season with a concussion. The Flyers have a bunch of injuries right now. Right wing Ian Lapierriere, defenseman Oskars Bartulis, and defenseman Matt Walker are out for the season. Goalie Michael Leighton and center Jeff Carter are both questionable for game 1 against Boston. Right Wing Andreas Nodl is doubtful for game 1.
The biggest question for the Flyers is in the net. They used 3 goalies in the series against Buffalo and none were really that effective. Brian Boucher was in the net for most of the series, and he had a 2.10 GAA average and a .934 save percentage. However, Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobvrosky each started a game. Leighton had a 3.44 GAA in two games and a save percentage of .862. Bobvrobsky had a GAA of 3.38 and a save percentage of .875. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has proven he isn’t afraid to remove his goalie if they aren’t playing well. Boucher will start but the other 2 could and probably will see action. Ten Flyers had at least 10 points in the Sabres series. Right Wing Claude Giroux has 9 points including 8 assists to lead the Flyers in both categories. Center Danny Brierre led the Flyers with 6 goals and had 7 points against his old team in the first round.
Boston has no questions in the net, as they are led by Vezina trophy finalist Tim Thomas. He had a 2.25 GAA against Montreal and a .926 save percentage. Center Patrice Bergeron led the Bruins with 7 points, including 5 assists. Center Chris Kelly had 6 points including 3 goals to lead the Bruins. Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand both had 5 points. Mark Recchi and Andrew Ference both had 4 points.
Though Philadelphia’s goaltender issues are a concern, they have way too much firepower for the defensive minded Bruins. Thomas will keep the Bruins close and maybe even win a game or 2. However, Philadelphia wins this series, perhaps not as dramatically as last year.
SERIES PREDICTION: FLYERS IN SIX GAMES
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