NHL Playoffs 2012: Philadelphia Flyers Are Ready to Match Up Defensively
The first four games of the series between the Flyers and Penguins was nothing like any other series so far in the 2012 playoffs. The high-scoring slugfest could only have been provided by the Keystone Cold War. During Game 6, the Flyers showed they are ready to take on the league’s best.
The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are full of teams that play with a defense-first mentality.
The Western Conference is even more defensive-oriented than the East.
During the first round, the Flyers showed little to no defense whatsoever.
The series with the Penguins was a goal scoring free for all. The two teams set an NHL record for most goals in a series through four games.
Every other series in the playoffs, with the exception of the Flyers and Penguins, has had low scoring games. The other teams are playing responsible hockey and capitalizing on small mistakes.
Future rounds will not be a high scoring shootout for the Flyers. If the Flyers want to have more playoff success, they need to show signs of defense.
Game 6 of the series against the Penguins was very important for the Flyers, and they stepped up with their best defensive performance of the playoffs.
Every player on the Flyers fully committed to playing defense and sacrificing their bodies to block every shot possible.
The Flyers had excellent defensive positioning on the Penguins all day. When the Penguins were in the offensive zone, the Flyers kept them to the outside and forced them to spend most of their time battling along the boards.
When the Penguins did get shots off, they were often met by the shin pads of a Flyer. The Flyers blocked a total of 40 shots as a team, which was nearly double their average for the series.
Shot blocking and smart defensive play helped the Flyers shut down the Penguins, and more importantly, helped Ilya Bryzgalov.
Going into the second round, Bryzgalov needed a good performance to help build his confidence. The first round for the Flyers was defense optional for the majority of the series, so Bryzgalov was constantly dealing with challenging performances.
The Flyers proved in Game 6 that they are capable of playing a strong defensive game.
With the skill the Flyers have, they will always be able to score goals. Now that they have shown their defensive abilities, the team should be very confident heading forward.
The pieces are in place for the Flyers to have a deep playoff run. Now that they are past their rival in the first round, things are looking up for the Flyers. Regardless of who the Flyers play next, they have the ability to adapt to any style of play necessary to get the win.
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