The most exciting time of the year has returned—the NHL Playoffs.
The Philadelphia Flyers are headed back to the leagues "second season". So, what I did was ask two professionals; one being from local talk radio-610 WIP’s Glen Macnow. The other coming from a National take on the Flyers, NHL.com’s Mike Morreale, the top national and Flyers writer on the league’s website.
I asked both of these gentleman questions regarding the Flyers and their upcoming push for Lord Stanley’s Cup. These were questions that myself, Alan Bass, and others wanted asked.
Here are the five questions I chose to ask both Glen and Mike, and their answers were just as interesting.
Question 1: What are the chances of the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup, based on the team's performance this year and their success against the other playoff teams?
Glen Macnow: Highly unlikely, when you look at the talent on San Jose, Detroit, and—to a lesser degree—Boston. I sure think they can duplicate last season's success; win a round or two. But the defense and goaltending tell me they won't win the Cup, or even get to the Finals.
Mike Morreale: There are some who think momentum down the stretch in the regular season is a sure sign a team will have playoff season, but I don't buy it. The playoffs are an entirely different animal and it usually comes down to which team has the most success in the neutral and defensive zone.
The Penguins were a great example of that last year. They were so strong through the neutral zone, in clogging up the lanes and quickly turning the transition.
The Flyers have one of the deeper teams heading into the playoffs, having six players with 24 or more goals. They've got Danny Briere back in the lineup and possible Selke Trophy winner, Mike Richards, leading the way. Their chances are as good as any other team in the Cup hunt.
Question 2: With Marty Biron having been so inconsistent this season, is it possible for the Flyers to have the same success as they did in last year's postseason?
Glen Macnow: Well, it's possible, but I would feel a lot better if Biron would show indications in the last four games that he can rise up to be the same guy we saw in last season's playoffs.
I watched the second Toronto game—the 8-5 game—and while some of those five goals can be blamed on the Flyers' defense getting lazy, I thought two of them were Marty's fault. He's a free agent at the end of the season. The time for him to show his excellence is now.
Mike Morreale: There's no doubt in my mind Biron is perfectly capable of leading the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has been playing extremely well of late. The thing he does so well—and what helped him and the team during the run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season—is his ability to smother the rebounds.
He'll make the first save and not allow a second shot, which is critical. Yes, he did struggle at times this season, but, let's be honest, was their any goalie who didn't struggle as some point this season? Heck, I've seen some chinks in the armor of Martin Brodeur as well.
Question 3: The coaching staff seems to be prepared for playoff series, yet often unprepared on a game-by-game basis during the season...how do they correct this moving forward?
MM: I feel Flyers coach John Stevens has done a great job with this team, considering where they were two seasons ago—last in the League in points. Coaches do not win or lose hockey game, players do. The coaches spend plenty of time watching video and going over the game plan and it's the players responsibility to execute that game plan.
It's a shame the coach will sometimes have to the brunt of the criticism. I suppose it's all part of the job, but, personally, I feel John Stevens will have the boys prepared. This is his second go-round in the playoffs so he'll know how to respond to certain situations.
GM: Sure, the coaching staff can do far better in the playoffs. Here's why—you focus on just one team during a playoff series, which gives your coaching staff the time to really figure out that team's strengths and weaknesses.
I like John and his assistants for their ability to break down an opponent. They'll have more of a chance to do that in the post-season.
Question 4: With John Stevens constantly mixing line combinations, can the team succeed in the postseason without a set line combination?
GM: Sure, it happens all the time. I think the importance of set lines is overrated.
MM: I think you answered your own question there Chris. The fact the Flyers won 43 games and clinched a playoff spot three games earlier than last season says a lot about the chemistry on this team and the ability of the players' to adjust with any combination Stevens so chooses.
Having the luxury to change-up lines during the course of a game could be crucial in the playoffs is Stevens can pin-point a mismatch in a certain area.
Question 5: This team has often fallen after losing key players to injuries (e.g. Timonen and Coburn in last year's playoffs). How do they be sure that if a player falls, their season does not do the same?
MM: Injuries are a part of the game and the Flyers have certainly had their fair share of them this season. Consider this team has lost 322 man-games to injury this season, whereas last season they lost 315 and reached the Conference Finals.
We know enforcer Riley Cote (finger) is out for the remainder of the season, but the rest of the team appears in good health heading into the postseason so it's full speed ahead. If someone does go down with an injury, another player will have to pick up the slack, which is something this club has been forced to do all season long.
GM: Well, you can't do much about that except hope you have the depth to survive it. You hope one or two kids from the Phantoms steps up and provides you with that missing energy.
The best part about this piece was getting a sense on both a local and a much important national look at this team. I think, in my opinion, both Mike and Glen had different opinions on certain aspects, but that's what makes a Q&A wonderful.
I would like to thank Mike Morreale and Glen Macnow for taking the time out to answer these questions for me, and the entire Flyers/NHL bleacher report world.
I think these two guys are the best in the biz to give you all both a local and national perspective on our Philadelphia Flyers.
I would also like to thank Alan Bass for helping out with the questions. Thanks for taking time out to help me with this article.
Let's all hope we see a long, and exciting Flyers playoff run, which hopefully ends with a final team picture with Lord Stanley standing in the middle of happy, bearded, Stanley Cup Champions.
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