NHL: Will First Two Games Decide the Conference Finals?

Chris OstranderCorrespondent IMay 12, 2008

Both the Western and Eastern Conference Finals have produced bad blood. However, the teams ignoring the hostilities are the ones leading each series.

Philadelphia has lived off their ability to bang bodies in the playoffs, this game plan has survived through many coaches, but it has not produced results. The Flyers made their run to the ECF on play-making and patience. They also received very good goal-tending.

Pittsburgh has lived off their ability to outplay opponents with depth, they will be able to do the same thing to the Flyers. While Philadelphia dresses grinders like Steve Downie they sacrifice the ability to skate with the Penguins. Downie was a direct result of Maxime Talbot's game winning goal in game two.

Going to Philadelphia may give the Flyers some much needed momentum, but going down 2-0 to a team like Pittsburgh is like digging your own grave. The biggest problem for Philadelphia is that they cannot match Pittsburgh's depth. If they choose to match Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupis and Marian Hossa they leave the Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Malone and Petr Sykora line to skate against a less-capable checking line. The only way for Philadelphia to win the series at this point, is to play close to the vest in hopes of limiting the chances for the Penguins. 

The Dallas Stars have a similar predicament as the Flyers do. They trail the higher seed 2-0 as they return home for, arguably, the most important game of the series. The Stars have been victimized by the Detroit power play. As players like Brendan Morrow and Steve Ott try and establish a physical tone the Red Wings simply skate away and strike with the man advantage.

While Marty Turco has finally removed the playoff monkey from his back, he has not gotten much help from the team in front of him for the first two games. If the Stars can stay out of the box, they stand a fighting chance. 

The Stars are capable of matching Detroit's talent level, they just need to stay out of the box to prove it.