5 Reasons Nobody Wants to Face the Philadelphia Flyers in the Playoffs

Brad KurtzbergContributor IApril 3, 2014

5 Reasons Nobody Wants to Face the Philadelphia Flyers in the Playoffs

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    The Flyers have been one of the NHL's top teams in the second half of the season.
    The Flyers have been one of the NHL's top teams in the second half of the season.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers are close to clinching a playoff berth as the 2013-14 NHL season enters its final weeks.

    While the Flyers will not win their division and may not even earn home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, few opponents in the Eastern Conference look forward to a series with the Orange and Black. In fact, the Flyers are a team most other clubs would like to avoid once the postseason gets under way.

    Here is a look at the top five reasons why opposing teams wish to avoid facing the Flyers in the playoffs.

    Feel free to comment on any of these reasons or add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

5. Depth

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    Vincent Lecavalier has been dropped to the fourth line.
    Vincent Lecavalier has been dropped to the fourth line.Matt Slocum

    The Flyers have solid depth at forward, on defense and in net.

    Vincent Lecavalier was recently "demoted" to the fourth line by coach Craig Berube, and he scored three goals in his first two games after the move was made.

    Having that kind of depth creates matchup problems for opposing coaches who cannot ignore the fourth line if Berube decides to put a talented player like Lecavalier out with that unit.

    On defense, the addition of Andrew MacDonald gives Philadelphia more flexibility on the blue line. His versatility allows him to move up to any defensive pairing and be effective in limited duty.

    Having an experienced player like Hal Gill on the bench also gives the Flyers depth on defense.

    Backup goalie Ray Emery has a Stanley Cup ring and is capable of taking over if Steve Mason slumps for a few games.

    Overall, the Flyers' depth has the potential to create matchup issues for opposing coaches and means Philadelphia will not have to rely too heavily on any one line for success.

4. Penalty Kill

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    Sean Couturier is a great penalty-killer and has a head start on the playoff beard.
    Sean Couturier is a great penalty-killer and has a head start on the playoff beard.Matt Slocum

    The intensity level goes up in the playoffs, while scoring tends to go down. When that happens, special teams become a vital part of a team's potential success.

    The Flyers have one of the best penalty-killing units in the NHL. Sean Couturier and Matt Read make up the first unit and never stop hustling when the other team has the extra skater.

    Besides, Couturier already has a great head start on the rest of the league when it comes to growing his playoff beard.

    Goalie Steve Mason also tends to step up when the Flyers are short-handed and has often been his team's best penalty-killer in key situations.

    Through their first 75 games, Philadelphia ranks fifth in the NHL with an 85.0 percent success rate at killing penalties.

    If the Flyers continue with this kind of success in the playoffs, it will be difficult for opposing teams to score often enough to beat them consistently.

    It also helps that Couturier and Read are a great defensive pairing at even strength as well.

3. Leadership and Experience

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    The Flyers have players who have been to the playoffs before.
    The Flyers have players who have been to the playoffs before.Keith Srakocic

    The Flyers are full of postseason experience.

    Twenty members of the team have played at least one game in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Vincent Lecavalier, Ray Emery and Hal Gill have all won Stanley Cup rings during their NHL careers, while Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen and Adam Hall have all reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Having leaders who have been there before will help the handful of young players like Michael Raffl, Luke Schenn and Jay Rosehill, who have never appeared in a postseason game at the NHL level.

    The Flyers also have former captains on their roster in Mark Streit and Lecavalier, who will add their leadership and experience to the roster.

    Overall, while the Flyers are not an old team, they have plenty of players who will not be intimidated by the intensity and urgency of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That can only help once the postseason begins.

2. Momentum

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    The Flyers recovered from a slow start to become contenders.
    The Flyers recovered from a slow start to become contenders.Tom Mihalek

    The start of this season was a tough one for the Flyers. They had trouble scoring goals and winning games and changed head coaches just three games into the season.

    The Flyers were 1-7-0 after their first eight games and scored only 20 goals in 11 games during the month of October.

    Now in early April, the Orange and Black have 39 wins and 87 points, which are pretty impressive numbers after a slow start.

    Essentially, the Flyers found themselves as the season went on and adjusted to new coach Craig Berube's system and expectations. They are confident that they are much better than their overall season record.

    That confidence and momentum will only help the Flyers once the playoffs get under way.

1. Claude Giroux

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    After a slow start, Giroux has proved he's one of the league's best players.
    After a slow start, Giroux has proved he's one of the league's best players.Matt Slocum

    Every great team needs a star player, and the Flyers have one in captain Claude Giroux.

    Despite the fact that he didn't score a goal in his first 15 games this season and had no points in his first five, he is now third in the league with 78 points on the season.

    He is the Flyers' leader on and off the ice. When he's hot and playing his best, they are a tough team to beat.

    Clearly, he gives his teammates more confidence. Scott Hartnell told Adam Kimelman of NHL.com, "He's playing phenomenal. He's leading us in the dressing room; he's leading us on the ice every day in practice. It's pretty exciting to be a part of it."

    Wayne Simmonds also said, "He's one of the best players in this League and I think he's shown that time after time. ... I think people were doubting him earlier this year and I think he has definitely proved himself. He's a great leader and he works really, really hard. He's a great example for all of us to follow."

    Whether it's Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews, recent championship teams are at their best when they have a star player to lead them. The Flyers possess that kind of player in Giroux.