Philadelphia Flyers: 5 Keys to Flyers Making a Long Stanley Cup Playoff Run

Joe RussomannoCorrespondent IApril 3, 2012

Philadelphia Flyers: 5 Keys to Flyers Making a Long Stanley Cup Playoff Run

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    With only three games left until the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs start, the Philadelphia Flyers are rounding into post-season form.

    The Flyers have entrenched themselves in the fifth seed unless something bizarre happens to the New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins. Home-ice has been anything but an advantage as the Flyers have suffered some of their most deflating losses at home this year.

    Moving forward there are five keys to the Flyers success this spring.

Stay Healthy

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    The Flyers couldn't start the playoffs this year without at least one defenseman being lost to injury.

    Right now Andrej Meszaros is out recovering from back surgery. If he can return and contribute, it would be nothing short of a miracle.

    Nicklas Grossmann was lost over the weekend to a blatant knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale. Heaven forbid the Flyers have all their defensemen healthy when they meet the Penguins in the playoffs again.

    Let's not forget about the biggest injury they suffered this year—Chris Pronger.

    The Flyers also have a slew of forwards out. Names like Danny Briere and James Van Riemsdyk who were the team's best two forwards last spring are out.

    It is absolutely imperative that the Flyers maintain a healthy roster. Anymore injuries and the head of steam they built up going into the playoffs could suddenly be a house of cards.

Secondary Scoring

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    The Flyers first line this year is about as potent as the old Legion of Doom line from the 1990's. Jagr, Hartnell and Giroux have combined for 82 goals with three games left to play in the regular season.

    That line is basically good for a goal a game. However the second and third line absolutely must contribute to the score-sheet in the playoffs.

    So far that doesn't appear to be a problem at all. Of the forwards still healthy, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Matt Read and Max Talbot have provided ample secondary scoring as well.

    The big question for those four guys will be: "Can they continue this in the playoffs?"

    Max Talbot is known best for his game seven heroics in 2009 for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he's not that dominant of a scorer in the post-season. He is most definitely a clutch-player and hopefully that carries over from his Penguins days.

Team Defense

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    The goal in that video is the microcosm of the Flyers on-ice woes. Too often this season the Flyers have left opposing forwards open with time and space in their own zone.

    Against the NHL elite they will make you pay for that almost every time. The arrival of Nick Grossmann and Pavel Kubina helped in that department but in the video it was the Flyers best forward who blew the coverage.

    Regardless of what defensemen are playing the Flyer forwards need to keep their legs moving and be aware of where their opponents are.

    There is an old saying that "defense wins Championships" and it can't be more true for the game of Hockey.

Goaltending

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    By now everyone knows the back-story here. Ilya Bryzgalov was brought in to solve the goalie woes in Philly, struggled for a little while, then came back with his head on fire.

    However Bryzgalov is out with an injury. I only wish I was making this up. The injury isn't life or death but it is a chip fracture to a weight-bearing-bone in his foot.

    Bryzgalov is coming off a month where he was named first star of the month! He's shown the world and his critics why the Flyers signed him last summer.

    What remains to be seen is how will he respond to this injury? Is it something he can't play through or will it bring his game down a level?

    Those are big questions that hopefully Bryzgalov can answer in the Flyers' favor this spring.

Claude Giroux

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    Forget about all the he said, she said stuff last year. Claude Giroux is the main reason that Paul Holmgren pulled the trigger on two of the franchise's biggest trades last summer.

    This season Giroux showed exactly what the Flyers brass saw in him. They saw a two-way forward that could dominate the league, his 89 points back that up.

    However a new season approaches, the playoffs.

    While Giroux had a big 2010 playoffs, he was playing in the shadows of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Not this year, though, this year he will be under the microscope.

    For the Flyers to be successful they absolutely need Giroux to light the lamp, back-check and most importantly—lead the way.