At long last, after being relegated like everyone else to watch TV to determine their fate, the Flyers finally have an opponent, though it took two overtimes between the Panthers and Devils to settle it. Now, do they have a ticket into the Conference Finals?
» New Jersey Devils — The glory days were supposed to be over for Martin Brodeur, only he keeps mocking the calendar. Now, after taking out the upstart Panthers — stopping 41 shots in a Game 7 win in Florida — it’s a familiar second round foe for the Flyers.
» This will be the fifth time they’ve squared off since Marty’s been between the pipes for the Devils, while the Flyers have gone with Ron Hextall, Brian Boucher, Robert Esche, Boucher again and now Ilya Bryzgalov. But one difference from before is that Brodeur’s supporting cast, especially on defense, doesn’t have any Scott Stevens or Rob Niedermayers.
» But the Devils do have dangerous Ilya Kovalchuk (although he looked to playing injured in Game 7 vs. Florida) … to go with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise. Plus, there’s always longtine Flyer killer Patrik Elias, who’s tormented them almost as long as Brodeur’s been around. No, they’re not on the level of a Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. On the other hand, their defense is a lot more solid.
Still, the Flyers know what expect from the Devils, plus they have enough respect for the soon-to-be 40-year-old Brodeur and the franchise in general not to take them for granted. The Flyers have to be wary of the Devils knack of scoring while shorthanded (NHL best 15 short-handed goals), but their power play and overall depth still figures to be the difference
Prediction » Flyers in 6