Hartnell-Briere-Prospal Line Biggest Untold Story of Playoffs
Going into the playoffs, we heard a great deal of hype about a guy from Pittsburgh dubbed the next Great One, a guy from Washington who is the best left winger in the game today, and a guy from Montreal hailed as the next Patrick Roy.
The guys that the hockey media forgot to mention were a threesome of forwards on the Flyers who have so far sent two of those three home to the golf course and have an opportunity to send the third there too.
With a combined 14 goals and 33 points total in 12 playoff games, the Hartnell-Briere-Prospal line has proved a force to be reckoned with, taking the ultimate Cinderella story in these playoffs through seven games with Washington starting with a 3-1 lead in the series, through a quick five games with a Montreal team widely expected to steamroll the Flyers, right up to the team’s first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 4 years with a chance to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in over a decade.
The irony of that is that two of those three weren’t on the top line at the beginning of 2008, and none of the three were even on the team last season.
The chemistry between the three has been the spark that has ignited this Flyers club from the worst finish in team history to eight games away from the promised land.
Prospal’s arrival very likely saved this team from a second consecutive year of being on the outside of the playoffs looking in. His arrival also shocked Briere out of his slump, the chemistry between the two being instant.
Hartnell also has made his mark on this line, playing his best hockey of the year after being teamed with Briere and Prospal, putting up 3 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs.
However, it has been Briere (8-6-14) and Prospal (3-9-12) who have fueled the major scoring punch for this team. Along with RJ Umberger, the unlikely hero who stole the Canadiens series, Briere and Prospal have been the backbone of this offense.
Compared to teams such as Pittsburgh(Crosby and Malkin) and Washington (Backstrom and Ovechkin) and Montreal(Kovalev, as well as the Kostitsyns), the Flyers might have the most un-sexy, least hyped, and yet (arguably) most prolific tandem in the game today. Despite lacking a “true” highlight-reel superstar in their offense, the Flyers, led by their prolific top line, get the job done the blue-collar way and have done so all year.
This city would have it no other way.
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