First game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals has the Flyers in Buffalo, the team everyone said the Flyers don't match up well with. The Sabres are too fast, the Flyers are too big and slow. Eh, I don't buy it. Yeah the Sabres won 3 games out of 4, let's look at those.
A 2-1 shootout win by the Sabres, sorry no shootouts in the playoffs. Injuries, the Flyers were missing Simon Gagne, Keith Primeau, Joni Pitkanen, Eric Desjardins, Mike Richards, Robert Esche, Turner Stevenson and Ryan Ready.
A 2-4 win by the Sabres. Ah yes, the Miller vs Esche game where all the Buffalo fans were chanting USA since they thought he deserved to be in the Olympics and Esche didn't. Flyers had a bad period, Sabres played well. Injuries for the Flyers included Keith Primeau, Kim Johnsson, and Peter Forsberg.
A 6-5 win by the Sabres. Flyers gave up 4 goals in the second period and lost the game with 28 second remaining. No effort in the second half of the game. Injuries included Michal Handzus, Derian Hatcher, Kim Johnsson, Chris Therien and Keith Primeau.
A 4-2 win by the Flyers. Flyers played well enough to win even without Peter Forsberg, Petr Nedved and the other usuall suspects of Keith Primea, Chris Therien and Kim Johnsson.
Back in 2000/2001 the Flyers swept the Buffalo Sabres in the regular season. The Sabres took out the Flyers in the first round in 6 games. So to me that means regular seasons series doesn't mean crap. So all that stuff above is worthless.
So let's compare them as they are now. While Buffalo's speed over the 'slow' Flyers is usually mentioned, the fact is the Flyers are much faster this year than in recent times. Carter, Richards, Umberger, Meyers, Dimitrakos, Gagne, Kapanen and Pitkanen are not slow guys, not at all. The Flyers get in trouble when the three slow defensemen get caught up ice. If they play smart defensively and pair up a slow guy with a faster guy this shouldn't be a problem. The Flyers have also looked slow at times when it came to effort. There is no reason to have low energy play in the playoffs.
The Dimitrakos-Carter-Umberger line has really come on offensively lately, the Flyers are not a one line team anymore. Big games, star players, Peter Forsberg and even Petr Nedved.
So who is definitely not going to be in game one? Keith Primeau, Kim Johnsson and Chris Therien. Robert Esche gets the start in goal vs rookie Ryan Miller. Esche's play will depend on how solid the Flyers defense is in front of him. Sure the Flyers are banged up a bit, but with 3 days off they should be ready to go. Of course I'm picking the Flyers to win the series. But many other people are thinking different.
Who is picking the Sabres in this series, John Buccigross, Bob McKenzie, Pierre McGuire, Bill Berg, Maggie the Monkey, Bill Clement, habs blog, HockeyAnalysis, Tim Panaccio, Hockey Country, Hockey Dirt, Sabres Report, Tom Benjamin, the habs.