Tim Thomas and Claude Giroux
Here is a complete matchup preview, looking at the Flyers offense vs. the Bruins defense, the Bruins offense vs. the Flyers defense, and who has the advantages at the different positions.
Join me as we look in depth on the Flyers-Bruins series that starts tomorrow night.
The Bruins post the same tandem as last year, but a role reversal with Thomas as the starter. Thomas has had a great season, with a 2.00 GAA and a .938 save percentage. H
e is a big reason for Boston's success and he might just be the x factor in this series. Rask is a capable backup with playoff experience and a lot of talent.
As much as things change, things stay the same. The Flyers used three goaltenders in Round 1 and won, something never done before. It won't happen again.
Boucher has to be the man in goal for Philadelphia and he has to play solidly for them to have a chance. He has had playoff success in the past for the Flyers.
Behind him they have the seldomly used Michael Leighton (though he did start Game 6) and a rookie in Bobrovsky that the Flyers don't seem to think is ready for a playoff atmosphere.
Boucher had a 2.42 GAA and a .916 save percentage in the regular season, but has traditionally played better in the playoffs.
Advantage: Boston Bruins
The Flyers hope they get a solid contribution from a healthy Chris Pronger
The Bruins defensemen are lead by Zedano Chara and are largely underrated. This team defends well, and obviously, solid goaltending helps here.
The Flyers are a force on offense, but the Bruins dominated the first three games last season and the defense was a big part of their success.
The Flyers key is the health of Chris Pronger. He makes a huge difference on their power play and if healthy plays over 30 minutes. He is a leader. If Pronger is not 100percent, it's a big blow.
The Flyers lack depth on defense though, as they went with five guys throughout a lot of the series.
The ageless Mark Recchi continues to amaze me in Boston.
Recchi scored 14 goals and was a plus 13 for the season. Obviously, Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic are the key to the Bruins offense.
Lucic was banged up a little bit against Montreal but they do expect him to play in this series. Horton scored the big goal against Montreal to win the series in overtime, and the Bruins have gotten a surprisingly solid contribution all season from Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder.
This is a dangerous offense with several guys who can score.
The Flyers strength is on offense, with Daniel Briere leading the playoff charge. He takes his game to another level in the postseason.
The first series may have been the coming out party for James Van Riemsdyk, who was all over the place in the first series. The Flyers also have dangerous Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Ville Laino, who seems to have a knack for big goals.
Getting Jeff Carter back will be huge for the Flyers, and they expect Carter back during this series.
In order to win this series, the Bruins have to get huge contributions from Lucic, Horton, and Bergeron. They also have to be solid between the pipes. A goaltending meltdown was the main reason they lost in seven games to the Flyers last year and they have to avoid that this year.
They have to contain Danny Briere. He was huge against Buffalo and seems to always play huge this time of year. If Briere is huge again, Boston is going home early.
Offensively, the Bruins have to take advantage of the Flyers mistakes. The Flyers made a lot of silly mistakes against Buffalo, and Buffalo took advantage of many of them.
The Bruins also have to jump out early. The Flyers seem to play better as the game goes along and were 3-0 against Buffalo last series when they scored the first goal.
Also, after last season's meltdown I believe the Bruins have to come out strong and win one of the first two games in Philadelphia. After losing four straight to the Flyers, the Bruins don't want to go down 2-0 going back to Boston.
If they get one of the first two in Philly, this series goes seven games again. If they don't, the Bruins go home.
You won't win many playoff series by playing musical goalies. The Flyers have to get consistent play from Boucher, but at the same time, if he struggles one game, they should go back to him the next game. Show some faith in a guy who has been great in the playoffs the last two years for you.
Defensively, Chris Pronger has to give them a solid contribution, especially on the power play. The Flyers have to make sure Boston's top line does not hurt them. They also have to do a solid job killing penalties, which hurt them at times over the last couple of seasons.
Offensively, the Flyers need a much better production out of their power play, which was miserable against Buffalo until Pronger's return. They also need to be aggressive.
The Flyers have to come out with more urgency. Other than game seven, the Flyers started slowly all series long. They played from behind a lot. If they play from behind too often, it will bite them eventually.
It will be a close series, but in the end, I think the Flyers have more talent and ultimately will send Boston home.
Look for Pronger and Timonen to lead a solid Flyers defense in this series, and surprising sharp play from Brian Boucher.
Pick: Flyers in 6