And this is the guy we have to thank. Not that the issue was really in doubt, of course the Flyers were going to the playoffs. But who they were playing was still a question. And what seed they were. But with a 2-1 win over Buffalo, and a penguin victory, the Flyers have locked up the 5th seed in the East and a 1st round date with the Penguins. But before they can dance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, they need to finish off the regular season.
The Flyers have dominated the season series with the Pens, and are undefeated this season in the 'burgh. And I have no reason to think this dominance will end. Ilya Bryzgalov played a fantastic game last night, and despite his injury, he looks ready for the playoffs. What I'm worried about in Pittsburgh is a goon game. The final minutes of the last Flyers-Pens game provided a lot of highlights for a big hit and the ensuing fight. And Laviolette standing on the bench, trying to get at the Penguins coaching staff. And that's exactly what we can't have.
The Flyers season has already been marred by injury. Pronger is out for who knows how long, and pretty much every skill player has spent time injured this season. NHL hockey is a rough game, and that's to be expected. But since neither team has anything to gain but pride from this game, and the Pens have been losing to Philly all season, I expect the Pens to come out swinging. Literally.
If the Flyers can make it through this game against the Pens without any injuries, I think they have a clear advantage in the 1st round. A dominant season over the Penguins, undefeated in Pittsburgh, and playing as the lower seed means the Flyers appear to have an advantage in the 1st round. But nothing is certain in playoff hockey.