I would say that they didn’t deserve it, as they were clearly outplayed for significant portions of the series (especially Game 4 which Fleury stole out-right), but the Flyers choked away two of the games, so they didn’t deserve it either.
I’m not overly enthused about their chances going forward (then again, I thought they had no shot making the playoffs at all), for a couple of reasons:
- Their powerplay remains abysmal. When the Guerin and Kunitz deals came around, I thought there might be some improvement, but except for rare instances, the Penguins seem to think that parking a player in front of the goalie is bad strategy. No, instead, they should all sit by the boards and pass it around for a while, and then pass it to an opposing player for the clear. Maddening. Could someone show them a few shifts of a Red Wings’ powerplay? Please?
- It’s a good thing that Fleury played out of his mind in stretches, and that the Flyers couldn’t score many grinder goals, since they got so many by depositing a rebound into a wide open net. It’s hard to criticize Fleury that much, since he’s why they won the series, but he’s got to control those rebounds better.
- Kunitz was terrible for the most part. After playing so well after the trade, he was shanking one-timers and outright missing passes all over the place. Staal did his usual ‘play really well on long shifts, but not score at all’. Thank God Kennedy shot the puck instead of passing.
Depending on how things finish out in the other series, they could play the Bruins, the Devils, or the Hurricanes. The Bruins looked dominating, but they were playing a demoralized Habs team, so that doesn’t mean much. The Devils/Canes series has probably been the best, of which I’ve seen almost nothing because all of the games have been on the same as the Pens'.
Update: of course, I forgot the ‘dream’ matchup (at least for the marketing folks at NHL HQ and NBC) which is against the Caps.
I love hockey, but games like today’s are going to kill me.