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2012 NHL Playoffs Preview: Penguins vs. Flyers

Canvassing the Caucuses: An Election-Style NHL Playoff Preview during Election Season

PART 4

by Peter Nygaard (follow him on Twitter)

Eastern Primary

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5)

[also see: Boston Bruins vs. Washington CapitalsFlorida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils,  & New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators]

  • The Issues:
    No Kid Left Behind — After taking an elbow to the head from David Krejci, Sidney Crosby looked like he might never return to the Sid “the in-his-mid-20s Kid” we had seen earn the title of best hockey player in the world. However, since returning on the ides of March, Crosby has returned to form, tallying 25 points in 14 games. With Crosby sidelined, the Penguins were still one of the better teams in the NHL. With a healthy Crosby and the NHL’s leading scorer Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh is downright terrifying.
  • Socialized Healthcare — The Penguins were among the NHL leaders in man games lost to injury. Crosby’s 60-game absence was the most notable, but the Penguins missed Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy and Zbynek Michalek for a combined 93 games as well. All five will be healthy for the series opener.
  • Political Dirt:
    Arguably the NHL’s most reviled player for the past few years, Matt Cooke spent the offseason working with coach Dan Bylsma trying to ‘reform’ his game. Surprisingly, Cooke has drastically cut down on his penalty minutes and was even Pittsburgh’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Sounds a little too good to be true, right?
  • Campaign Promises:
    If elected, the Penguins promise to drum up more fan interest and vitriol than any other team in the NHL. Pittsburgh isn’t a big market, but ask any casual fan who Sidney Crosby is, and you’re unlikely to get a blank stare. You may hate to see them succeed, but it’s good for the game.
  • The Issues:
    Russian Diplomacy — When the Flyers inked Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract, they hoped he would be the $51 million answer to their long-standing goaltending question. Instead, Bryz has only made the situation murkier. The enigmatic Russian’s performance level has dipped up and down, while backup Sergei Bobrovsky has had his moments but struggled with consistency as well. With so much money invested in Bryzgalov, it will be tough to give him the hook, but coach Peter Laviolette won a Stanley Cup in Carolina after dropping the veteran starter for a younger, less-experienced netminder.
  • Space ExplorationTake it away, Ilya.
  • Political Dirt:
    When a team trades away its entire leadership core to bring in a guy who played his way onto the bench during the regular season, it’s usually time to cash out.
  • Campaign Promises:
    If elected, the Flyers plan to do what they do best in the playoffs and serve as foil for somebody else’s run to the Stanley Cup. “Ever the bridesmaids, never the brides” seems to be the mantra for this organization.

Vote For: Pittsburgh Penguins in 7

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  1. April 13, 2012 at 7:47 am
  2. April 13, 2012 at 7:54 am
  3. April 13, 2012 at 7:56 am

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