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Second-round options coming into focus for Flyers

by Adam Kimelman /

Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere was asked after finishing their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins last week if he had any rooting interest in which team he would play next.

"We can't control that," he said. "And I'm not going to root for anyone. It is what it is. Yes, I'm going to watch, but we'll take whatever is going to be present. It's always the way we've approached it."

Originally, the Flyers could have faced any of the six remaining teams. That window was narrowed a bit Wednesday when the Washington Capitals eliminated the Boston Bruins in Game 7.

Not only did Washington's win take the Bruins out of consideration, it also means the Flyers can avoid playing the top-seeded New York Rangers in the conference semifinals.

That would have been the least-desirable matchup for Philadelphia, which lost all six games in the 2011-12 season to the Rangers, and are winless in eight straight against them.

However, that leaves four possible opponents for Philadelphia in the conference semifinals. Let's take a look at how each scenario would play out, look back at how the Flyers matched up with them in the regular season, and check out any playoff history that might exist.

The Flyers took three of the teams' four regular-season meetings with Florida. (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)

Florida Panthers -- If the Panthers eliminate the Devils and the Rangers top the Senators, the Flyers would face the third-seeded Panthers.

Philadelphia took three of the teams' four regular-season meetings, including both games at BankAtlantic Center.

The teams have met in the playoffs only once before, when Florida beat the Flyers in 1996 Eastern Conference Semifinals en route to the franchise's only Stanley Cup Final appearance.

New Jersey Devils -- If the Devils win their series and the Rangers beat Ottawa, the Flyers would host the sixth-seeded Devils.

The teams split their six regular season games, with the road team winning twice in each building.

The Flyers and Devils have met in the playoffs four times, but that history certainly has been memorable. Twice the Devils eliminated the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals en route to winning the Stanley Cup (1995, 2000). The 2000 series is remembered for the Devils' rally from a 3-1 series deficit capped by the massive hit Devils captain Scott Stevens laid on the Flyers' Eric Lindros. However, the Flyers have won the last two times the teams have played -- five-game first-round series wins in 2004 and 2010.

Washington Capitals -- If the Senators upset the Rangers and the Panthers beat the Devils, the Flyers would host the seventh-seeded Capitals.

The Flyers won three of four regular-season meetings, but swept the final three, all coming after Dale Hunter replaced Bruce Boudreau as coach. Two of the Flyers' three wins came in Washington.

The teams have split four all-time playoff meetings, but the Flyers have won the two most recent -- in the 1989 Patrick Division Semifinals, and the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Ottawa Senators -- If Ottawa and New Jersey win their games Friday, the Flyers would host the eighth-seeded Senators and have home-ice advantage through the conference finals.

The teams split four regular-season games, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. However, the Senators won the two most recent games, including a 4-3 shootout win in Philadelphia on March 31.

The Flyers have played the Senators just twice all-time in the playoffs, with Ottawa winning each time. In the 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Ottawa's Patrick Lalime held the Flyers to just one regulation goal in the five-game series, and shut them out in Games 2, 3 and 4. Also, Ottawa won in six games in the 2003 conference semifinals.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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