NHL Playoff Predictions: Philadelphia Flyers' Ideal Scenario in Each Round

Joe Russomanno@@jriding4evrCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2012

NHL Playoff Predictions: Philadelphia Flyers' Ideal Scenario in Each Round

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    The Philadelphia Flyers are essentially wild cards heading into this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. No one is picking them to do anything playing in the shadow of the conference-leading New York Rangers.

    In fact, no one is really picking anyone other than the Bruins to match up well against the Rangers.

    However much like in 2010, this Flyers squad might have the chips fall just right for them. Upsets happen every year and don't expect that to change this season.

    With that in mind, allow me to present the ideal scenario for the Philadelphia Flyers in each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Round 1 and 2: Pittsburgh or New Jersey, Take Your Pick

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    There's been talk of the Flyers becoming a sixth-seeded team to face the winner of the inferior Southeast Division. That's all well and good, but the Flyers need to finish strong, and if so—a sixth seed won't happen. Instead they will finish fourth or fifth.

    Since they will finish fourth or fifth, they would be better suited facing one of the two teams they have beaten.

    The Pens, Devils and Flyers will most likely occupy the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds. That means the Flyers will face one of them in the first and possibly the second round.

    Bryzgalov has posted a shutout and a 1.00 GAA in two starts.

    The Flyers have shown they can beat the Penguins despite a recent 6-4 loss in which Bryzgalov was visibly struggling and the team made several errors with the puck.

    Furthermore, Marc Andre-Fleury only has two seasons above a .900 save percentage and Brodeur hasn't been himself in the playoffs for many years.

    For the second round, the ideal situation for the Flyers is having the New York Rangers knocked off by the Tampa Bay Lightning (if they do in fact make the playoffs). 

    If that happens and the sixth seed delivers as promised, then the Flyers will face whoever is left between the Penguins and Devils in the next round.

    The Flyers should be able to beat either team and advance to the conference finals.

Conference Finals: Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Given that the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to pull off two upsets last year, it would be huge if they can do it again this season for the Flyers.

    In a seven-game series, the Flyers should find overpowering Dwayne Roloson or Mathieu Garon much easier than the Lightning find beating Ilya Bryzgalov.

Stanley Cup Finals: Chicago Blackhawks

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    You wouldn't be able to write a better Hollywood script for this one. Everything from the draft lottery which gave the Blackhawks Kane and the fact that former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery now plays for Chicago.

    Most Flyers fans like to believe that if Emery was healthy during the Stanley Cup Finals, things might have been different. Both teams have relatively the same core group of players from two years ago—the Flyers have a reinvigorated corp.

    After all the hype, there is the nuts and bolts to this matchup.

    Both teams have suffered from shaky goaltending this year—what else is new?

    The Flyers' plus-19 gives them the advantage over the Blackhawks plus-7. Each team has also hit the 200-goal mark.

    The Flyers also match up better against the Blackhawks than any other team in the Western Conference. Nashville's retooled team would likely smother the Flyers' youthful attack, and Pekka Rinne would be the favorite over Bryzgalov in a low-scoring affair.

    Detroit just has too much playoff savvy for a young team like Philadelphia.

    Vancouver would be an easier foe than Detroit, but Philadelphia would still be be outmatched. Maybe with a healthy Chris Pronger they could do it, but otherwise, unlikely.

    Those are the four contenders I see coming out of the West this year, and out of all those teams Chicago would make a better dancing partner.

    Follow me on twitter @jriding4evr for Flyer talk and whatever!