Philadelphia Flyers: Keys To Knocking Off the NHL's Eastern Conference Champs

Eric CaspersonCorrespondent IIMarch 31, 2011

Philadelphia Flyers: Keys To Knocking Off the NHL's Eastern Conference Champs

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    Heading into the playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers will have a target on their backs.

    It could be because of their possible No. 1 seed in the East, or it could be because they are the defending conference champs.

    With the Flyers most likely holding onto the top seed, the road to the Stanley Cup will run through Philadelphia, which is a very tough place to play.

    There are ways to beat this Flyers team, though. Chicago exposed them in last year's finals, and they have been exposed in March—only going 5-4-4.

    Here is a list of five ways to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in a playoff series.

5. Play Physical with Them

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    Everyone knows about the Broad Street Bullies from the 1970s.

    The Flyers still like to play that type of physical hockey today.

    Players like Mike Richards, Dan Carcillo and Chris Pronger lead the way.

    However, the whole team does not like to play physical. Opponents can shut down players like Danny Briere—and sometimes Jeff Carter—if they are physical enough with them.

    Even though a team may be playing into one of the Flyers' strengths with this strategy, it can be a downfall for some of Philly's top players.

4. Quiet the Crowd

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    If teams are going to knock off the Flyers, they are going to have to steal a few games at the Wells Fargo Center.

    The Flyers have among the best crowds and atmospheres in the NHL when things are going good for the team.

    When the team is struggling, the crowd seems to get on its own team even.

    A prime example: In last week's game against Washington, the Wells Fargo Center was dead silent while the Caps dropped a 3-0 lead on the Flyers. Only after the first couple goals did the fans get back into it and stopped booing their team.

    An early lead means a lot in the Flyers' home.

3. Shut Down Danny Briere

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    Danny Briere single-handedly got the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.

    He scored 12 goals and had 18 assists in just 23 games during their remarkable run.

    When Briere is on his game, the Flyers are tough and almost impossible to beat.

    The opposing teams' defensemen have to contain Briere and make sure he gets nothing easy. They can never take him for granted anywhere on the ice.

    Briere has shown he can get the puck in the back of the net, even at the most obscure angles.

2. Win the Second Period

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    Here are the numbers that are the difference between a good Flyers team and a great one: 82-59.

    This is the second-period goal differential for Philly. The Flyers have scored 82 goals in the second period while only giving up 59.

    The Flyers seem to just click the start button in the second period and go off on their opponents.

    Their 59 goals allowed in the second frame is good for third best in the league.

    Trailing the Flyers going into the third period does not bode well for teams. The Flyers win over 88 percent of those games.

1. Put the Puck on Net

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    One of the concerns for the Flyers heading into the postseason is at the goaltender position.

    Just like in past years, the Flyers do not have a true No. 1 goalie.

    Sergei Bobrovsky started out the year looking like a No. 1 before going through a rough stretch midway through the season.

    He especially did not look good in their big game against Washington last week. He was pulled after allowing three early goals.

    Brian Boucher has more experience, but is he consistent enough for the Flyers to win it all?

    Boucher, who is 2-3-2 in his last seven games, will likely get the call for the playoffs due to his experience.

    The key for the opposing teams will be to put the puck on net and expose one of these two goalies. They are bound to let one slip by.