Flyers-Penguins Playoff Preview: Philly's Chances Depend on Martin Biron

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IApril 13, 2009

Whether you love them or hate them, the Philadelphia Flyers play an exciting brand of hockey.  The same goes for their cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

These two powerhouses meet up for the second straight year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This time the two monsters will go head-to-head in the opening round.

Last spring, the Pens got the better of the best-of-seven series against the orange-and -black to decide the Eastern Conference champion.  This year the stakes are smaller, albeit still very high.

Philadelphia possessed the fourth seed and home-ice for the first round of the postseason, however since they fell to the Rangers 4-3 in the last game of the regular season, they fell to the fifth seed to give the Pens home-ice.

It's what every team wants and what the higher seed gets.  Home-ice is the biggest advantage the Pittsburgh Penguins have over the Flyers.

It's not the Sidney Crosby factor or the Evgeni Malkin factor—for that matter, it's not even the Marc-Andre Fleury factor.  The biggest edge the Pens have over Philly is that they posses the home-ice advantage.

There's no question that the crowd comes into play in any NHL game, and it's even bigger in the playoffs.  Frankly, home-ice can very well be the deciding factor when it comes to a seven game series.

The Flyers faced the Washington Capitals last year in the first round. Almost everyone on the national stage gave the Caps the edge in the series, but all of Philadelphia knew that was incorrect.  The Flyers proved to be the better team.

Philadelphia were the underdogs against the Canadiens last year in the second round and they knocked them out in five games.

This year, the national rank will favor the Penguins and that is probably the safe bet.  However don't overlook this Philadelphia Flyers team.

It has been a season of ups and downs for the Flyers, and, for what it's worth, they underachieved.  When you have four players with 30 or more goals and six players with 25 goals or more, you would think they would be the top seed.  They are not.

The Flyers have more depth than the Pens, have a better defensive core than the Pens, but the biggest knock on the Philly team that may decide whether it will be a short run or a long run in the playoffs is the goalkeeping.

Philadelphia's chances to beat the Penguins falls on the shoulders of goalie Martin Biron.

For most of the 2009 campaign, there was a controversy in the blue paint for the Flyers.  Should Martin Biron or Antero Niittymaki be the No. 1 goaltender?  That question was the only thing keeping the Flyers back.

Biron is the guy.

Think back to prior to last year's second season, everyone was asking if Biron can be a good playoff goalie.  He answered that by leading his team to four wins within getting to the Stanley Cup.

If Biron stands on his head like he did against the Capitals and Canadiens last year, the Flyers will beat the Penguins. 

Marty, are you ready to turn in your greatest performance? 

The Flyers hope so.

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