Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers: Stanley Cup Round One Preview

WoooooSenior Writer IApril 14, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 13:  Arron Asham #45 of the Philadelphia Flyers battles against Paul Bissonnette #16 of the Pittsburgh Penguins January 13, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It's no secret that the Penguins-Flyers rivalry is not only one of the biggest rivalries in hockey, it is one of the biggest rivalries in the world.

It even gives Mr. Draft Dodger himself the shakes. whoooooooooo.

"The Battle of Pennsylvania" is a phrase made up by someone who probably got rich off of it, but what else can you call this inner-state match up?

The Flyers had a chance to clinch home ice this past weekend, but not surprisingly, they choked.

There are tons of great match ups you could talk about in this series.

The Pens' revamped power play versus the Flyers top ranked penalty kill. Sidney Crosby versus Mike Richards, which has developed into quite the on-ice feud over the past two seasons.
Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk versus competent human beings could be the biggest match up of this post season.

You could talk about Scott Hartnell, but why would you waste your time?

Milan Kraft scores 30 goals playing with Carter and Lupul, take that to the bank.

You could talk about the Flyers not winning a Stanley Cup since the mid-70s or about the Pens eliminating them from last year's playoff picture in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals, after the Flyers prevailed over the Pens in 1989, 1997, and 2000.

You could even talk about Kimmo Timonen, but Mike Emrick and Joe Beninati will do enough of that for all of us on national television, so save your breath.

You might even debate whether or not either team will use its' enforcer during the series. Riley Cote and Eric Godard have had their share of heavyweight bouts in recent history, and you could wonder if the laundry will come off during this series, something that is extremely rare in the playoffs.

You could wonder if the Penguins' deadline acquisitions of Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin and Craig Adams will be enough to replace what was obviously missing from the early season lineup.

You might even wonder if Evgeni Malkin will continue his regular season on-ice dominance once the playoffs begin.
Here on Bleacher Report, you could even estimate how many Associated Press-type Flyers' articles Alan Bass will spit out in the next 12 days.

You can make all the predictions, guesses, hypotheses, and bets that you want.

Or you could take a look at Martin Biron and realize that the Flyers aren't going anywhere, this year, or next, or the following. Not with French Toast minding their net.

Am I saying they won't win this first round series against the Penguins? Absolutely not.
However, Biron is not going to get his name on Lord Stanley's chalice, unless it comes by him riding the coattails of a teammate who steals his starting job sometime in the near future.
Biron is a below average goaltender playing on an above average hockey team. His weaknesses were masked for much of the regular season, due to some solid spot starts from Nitymaki, an excellent penalty killing unit in front of him, and well, just flat out luck.

If the playoffs are famous for one thing, it's exposing weaknesses, and ladies and gentlemen, Martin Biron is the Flyers' weakness.

Is he their only weakness? Probably not. Will he steal a game for his team? Most likely.

The fact of the matter is that Martin Biron will not suffice to thwart the Penguins' attack.

This is not a prediction, nor is it a Guerin-tee, it is simply a recitation of facts.

Special teams will be the key to this playoff series. If the Pens can come out on the winning end of the special team battle, their chances of advancing to the next round will increase 100-fold.

Keep in mind that a seven game series is not won in one game.

If there's anything we all should have learned from last year's playoffs, it is that a playoff series can take years off of your life.

This year will be no different. We will celebrate victory, sulk in defeat, be on top of the world, and on the bottom of the barrel, and it will begin in a matter of less than 48 hours.

Hang on tight, put away your razor, and think of every possible way you can harass every Flyers' fan you know after a big win, keeping in mind that they are about to do the same thing to you.

The playoffs are here, and it truly is a great day for hockey.



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