The road to Lord Stanley's Cup is not an easy one. In fact the NHL playoffs are probably the hardest of all team sports.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, their path to the promised land this year will be difficult as any. Any team can beat another in a seven game series. While some teams are heavily favored against others there will be teams the Flyers do not stack up as the superior against.
Having registered wins against all the heavy hitters from the Western Conference, the Flyers road looks most difficult in the first three rounds. However despite early season success there will be challenges awaiting in the final round should they get there.
It seems like a new Guns N' Roses album will happen before the Flyers beat the Rangers again. If the Flyers meet them in the playoffs it very easily could be lights out.
On the bright side the Rangers still have to prove they can win in the playoffs. They haven't been past the first round since George W. Bush was President and Obama is up for re-election.
The Bruins look like they can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag right now, but don't forget they are the current defending champs.
Also they are missing some key pieces due to injury. Tim Thomas could easily have surge in the playoffs and all hell could break loose.
The Flyers have struggled to beat the Bruins but unlike the Rangers actually did beat them once this year. A better idea of how these teams will match up should be revealed this weekend but both teams will need to get star players healthy first.
The Pittsburgh Penguins handily disposed of the Flyers in the 2008 and 2009 playoffs. Both teams have retooled since and the Flyers have shown regular season dominance but just like Flyer fans should be hoping with the first two teams, the regular season means nothing.
The Pittsburgh Penguins armed with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby (if he actually does return) are good enough to beat anyone.
With Martin Brodeur suddenly rejuvenating his career the Devils look like the team that stormed out of the North Jersey swamp in the late 90's and early 2000's. You remember that team, the one the Flyers just could not beat even when they once had a three games to one lead in the Eastern Conference Finals over them.
Yes the Devils are once again playing lock-down defense with solid goal-tending and timely goal-scoring. Don't take it for granted if the Flyers face them in the playoffs.
Before the re-tooling at the trade-deadline the Predators didn't look like a team that could get out of the second round let alone hoist the cup.
With the new additions of Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad the Predators are as deadly a team as any in the NHL.
Never mind the fact they have the best defensive tandem in hockey, the Predators are a major threat if the Flyers face them in the final round should they get there.
Should the Flyers get past all the obstacles in the Eastern Conference and make it to the Finals this is a team that could seriously throw a wrench in the works.
Both teams would provide the audience with a fight to the finish but the Redwings are a dangerous lot.
Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard and Niklas Lidstrom are the names that come to mind that would be a serious thorn in the Flyers side.
The Flyers played well against the Redwings at the last meeting backstopped by none other than Ilya Bryzgalov himself. Remember the guy who got toasted in consecutive playoff years by the Redwings?
Well behind an improved roster Bryzgalov looked much better (I only argued as much all summer and season long but whatever) and gave the Flyers hope that if they did in fact meet Detroit, a win could happen in the Finals.
However that was just one game and about a month earlier the Redwings lambasted the Flyers. Bryzgalov wasn't in net but Bobrovsky wasn't all that bad either.
Detroit is a team the Flyers would rather not play in the post-season.