1 Can they just flip the switch?
The Flyers have been saying for weeks that you just don’t flip a switch on and start winning in the playoffs. But their erratic, sloppy, disinterested play down the stretch speaks otherwise. Now that the post-season is finally here, we’ll find out if that was merely lip service and they can turn it on at will, or an indicator of a short Stanley Cup run.
2 Can they fix the power play in time?
If you think the Flyers’ anemic power play (5-for-40 in the past 14 games) has been an issue, the playoffs bring greater concern. Traditionally, teams tighten up defensively, making special teams critical. Inability to make teams pay for taking penalties or getting burned while shorthanded can spell disaster. A healthy Chris Pronger is crucial for the Flyers.
3 What about Bob … can he be the man?
This time a year ago no one had even heard of Sergei Bobrovsky. Now, the rookie has emerged as the Flyers’ top goaltender — at least to start the playoffs. Barring a 2010-like string of injuries, it’s unlikely Peter Laviolette will be rotating goalies. While Brian Boucher and 2010 hero Michael Leighton wait in the wings, chances are if “Bob” doesn’t do it, then no one will.
4 Is home where the wins are?
Home has been anything but sweet as of late, with the Flyers staggering down the stretch (2-4-4 at Wells Fargo Center). But the playoffs bring out the best in Flyers fans and the team usually responds. Remember, they went 9-2 in last year’s Cup run.
5 Who provides this year’s magic?
Ville Leino, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux emerged as postseason stars last year, giving the Flyers unexpected line depth. Who does it now, on a team that boasts eight 19-or-better goal scorers? Possible candidates include James van Riemsdyk, midseason acquisition Kris Versteeg or Russian sniper Nicolay Zherdev. With so much focus paid to the top guns — Danny Briere, Giroux, Mike Richards, enigmatic Jeff Carter — getting contributions from others is critical.