I've been gathering up all of the playoff predictions all morning long, trying to gather some sort of consensus on who the 'experts' think is going to win this first round series between the Flyers and the Devils. There really is no common thread when it comes to who's picking who to win the series, but everybody does agree on one thing: it's going to be a long series.
Let's go through all the predictions.
Lyle Richardson at FoxSports.com talks about how the Devils defense is really strong and the Flyers offense is really strong, but spends most of his argument on the goaltending, and how Brian Boucher hasn't played a meaningful playoff game in 10 years.
Meanwhile, the Flyers' hopes rest upon backup Brian Boucher, who hasn’t played a meaningful postseason game in 10 years. If the Flyers can wear down Brodeur, they might have a chance. The Devils also hope late-season addition Ilya Kovalchuk lights it up in the postseason as he did down the stretch. Ultimately the Devils' stifling defensive game should shut down the struggling Flyers. Devils in six.
Seems to me that, based on that argument, the Flyers chances would rest upon their offense showing up, not on Boosh. It's like there are two different arguments happening at once in his piece, or something.
Moving on, TSN's James Cybulski likes the Flyers chances based on their regular season success.
The Flyers owned Martin Brodeur and the Devils this season, and I don't think he's quite the same goaltender as he once was. Brodeur is still great, but he's human now. Pick: Flyers in 7
The Hockey News likes the Flyers as well (as if we didn't already know that from their Stanley Cup pick before the season.) THN says that the Flyers have emotion on their side, and that being able to overcome a five-game losing streak so late in the season is something that should be looked at positively, not negatively.
Outside of goaltending, The Flyers are a healthy bunch for the first time all season. Statistical down-seasons aside, Philly boats a murderers row of forwards that will go at the Devils in waves. Boucher gained oodles of confidence in besting Henrik Lundqvist on the final day of the season when it mattered most. Pronger will eliminate Kovalchuk, leaving the scoring primarily in Parise’s hands, which is too much for him to do on his own. Despite goaltending questions, Philly upsets New Jersey. Philadelphia in seven
More after the jump.
The three fellas at NBC's ProHockeyTalk, Brandon Worley, Joe Yerdon and James O'Brien, are putting a lot of stake into Brian Boucher. Also, stating that the Flyers are 'an absolute mess.' None of them pick us, as you might imagine. Take a look for yourself:
Brandon: If the Flyers had any sort of reliable goaltending, I'd be seriously tempted to go with the fellas from Broad St. Yet Boucher has been too inconsistent; is Michael Leighton better? New Jersey in 6.
James: The Devils haven't been a great playoff team since the lockout, but thankfully the Flyers are an absolute mess. That being said, don't discount the Flyers' overall talent in this one. New Jersey in 6.
Joe: I don't trust Brian Boucher in the playoffs, but I do think he can steal a couple of games. New Jersey in 6.
While THN argues that Pronger will eliminate Kovalchuk, ESPN's Pierre Lebrun sees number 17 taking over the series and propelling the Devils to a victory.
The Flyers are a better team than what they showed this season and are a dangerous first-round foe, one that routinely beat the Devils in the regular season. This could be a long and closely battled series. But we see Kovalchuk producing and Brodeur shutting the door when it matters. Devils in seven games.
And those are the expert picks I've stumbled across so far. Quite honestly, it doesn't matter how much hockey you've watched or how much of an 'insider' you are. Nobody knows what's going to happen. But, predictions like these do drive web traffic, so I'm sure we'll see more come out before tomorrow night's series opener.