Series breakdown: Flyers (2) vs. Bruins (3)
Season series: Boston won, 3-1
Snapshot: Well, if the first round featured the redemption of the Canucks in vanquishing their tormentors from Chicago, the Eastern Conference Semi-final has a similar plotline as the Bruins look to avenge last year's 3-0 series lead fizzle and yield of Game 7's 3-0 lead in an epic collapse (photo gallery). That was a banged-up Bruins squad then -- especially down the middle -- and GM Peter Chiarelli changed the mix for this eventuality.
To that end, the Bruins are deeper, bigger and healthier than they were against the Flyers in last season's playoff match-up. The additions of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly have given the B's a legitimate third line, which flourished in the ECQF when the two switched positions during that series with Peverley in the middle and Kelly on the wing. The added balance allows the Bruins to play a game with pace or a heavier game, whichever is required.
That's also the makeup of the Flyers. They are ferocious on the forecheck and relentless in their puck pursuit. They have skill down the middle -- how many teams could absorb the loss of a player of Jeff Carter's caliber? -- and mobility on the backend. If Chris Pronger can find ways to contribute defensively, that would be a huge boost to the Flyers' cause. Their combination of grit and go makes them tough to handle in the offensive zone. Daniel Briere was magnificent around the Sabres' net in round one and that will be the area where this series in decided. If the Flyers have their way at the top of the crease, the Bruins will be hard pressed to advance.
Spotlight's On: Brian Boucher. Talk about mental fortitude. Passed over, pulled and looked beyond, yet he continues to deliver when it matters. His ability to conjure up his A-game, despite option B or C relegation time and again, is amazing. He will be measured against the Bruins' Vezina Trophy nominee Tim Thomas -- another battler extraordinaire -- and how Boucher performs will go a long way in determining the outcome of this series.
X-Factor for Flyers: James Van Riemsdyk. The budding power forward had a marvelous first round against the Sabres. The Bruins' heavier game will pose more of a challenge, but if he continues to be a force on the forecheck and the score sheet, the Flyers will likely move on to the ECF for the second consecutive year.
X-Factor for Bruins: Milan Lucic. Conversely, the Bruins' hulking power forward just didn't play well in the first round vs. Montreal. The leading goal producer for his squad during the regular season failed to tally even once. But this edgy series should bring out the best in Lucic. He needs to produce, and a good place to start would be on the power play where the Bruins were an epic failure despite dispatching the Canadiens in seven games.
The Pick: Bruins in seven.
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