(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins
Seeds: No. 2 vs. No. 3: Flyers beat Buffalo in seven games; Bruins beat Montreal in seven games
Call it déjà vu, as this series takes place one year after the Flyers staged one of the great comebacks in playoff history by beating the Bruins after losing the first three games and falling behind 3-0 in Game 7. The one change is that the Flyers have the home-ice advantage – though Philadelphia split its four home games in the opening round and the Bruins won two of three road games.
Right here, right now:
It wasn't nearly enough to atone for last spring's failures, but the Bruins did dominate the season series, winning three games and losing once in overtime. Boston won both of its visits to the Wells Fargo Center, including a 2-1 victory in the teams' last meeting on March 27.
Both teams had to go seven games in the opening round, though the Flyers had an easier time in their deciding game – they beat Buffalo 5-2 in a game that was largely over by the end of the second period. Philadelphia also finished its series on Tuesday, giving the Flyers an extra day of rest before starting the series at home. Boston couldn't put Montreal away in six games and blew 2-0 and 3-2 leads in Game 7 before Nathan Horton
's goal 5:43 into overtime finally won the series – marking only the ninth time in 33 tries that the B's have beaten Montreal and the first time in franchise history they've won a series after losing the first two games.
How important to win first game:
Considering that both teams lost the opener in the previous round, maybe not as much as you'd think. The Flyers will have the advantage of an extra day off, as well as getting to start the series in their own building. The Bruins will be eager to get the jump on the Flyers, if only to erase any memories of last year.
The Great Unknown:
Each team had a "first" in the opening round. Boston became the first team to win a seven-game series without scoring a power-play goal – but don't expect the Bruins to win this series unless the power play starts contributing. The Flyers became the first team since 1988 to win a playoff series in which it started three goaltenders. Expect Brian Boucher
to get the first call against the Bruins –but don't be surprised if coach Peter Laviolette
again has a quick hook. None of the three (Boucher, Michael Leighton
and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky
) are as good as Boston's Tim Thomas
, who figures to get the call in every game.
Both the Bruins and Flyers had a size advantage on their first-round opponent; that won't happen in this round. Philadelphia got a boost from the return of All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger
, who played in Games 6 and 7 after coming back from a broken right hand. The Bruins ended one hex by rallying from a 2-0 series deficit to beat Montreal; you can be sure coach Claude Julien
will use last year's historic loss to the Flyers as a rallying point in this round.