First round series breakdown: Penguins (4) vs. Flyers (5)
The Flyers match up well with the Penguins, with an 8-2-1 mark against them over the past two seasons. If the Pens can survive and lick their wounds after this series, they may be impossible to beat, but getting that far will not be easy.
Nobody has Pittsburgh's center trifecta of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, and with all three healthy, there is no way Philadelphia can match up adequately with each of them. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that at times this season James Neal has been the team's hottest scorer. In recent days, it's been Pascal Dupuis.
Still, it isn't as though the Flyers can't score. Claude Giroux (28 goals, 93 points) has been as consistent an offensive threat as the league has seen all season, and likely linemate Jaromir Jagr (19 goals, 54 points) would love to stick it to his old team. The more the series becomes a physical showdown, the more a player such as gritty Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, a 37-goal scorer, can shine, because Pittsburgh's go-to forwards are not nearly as comfortable in the trenches. Yes, the Pens have some physical players, but the more ice time they receive, the less there will be for their stars who can truly light up the scoreboard. While the Flyers' 264 goals this season ranked second in the league, they still didn't equal the Penguins' league-leading 282. The more the games turn into a track meet, the cozier it will be for Pittsburgh.