Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Playoffs Series Preview & Pick

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Playoffs Series Preview & Pick

After undergoing core-muscle surgery and missing almost two months, Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott played two regular-season games last week and tried to shake off the rust. When Crosby was asked afterward why he did it, the Penguins captain responded: "I don't like them".

Teams I'm rooting against? "If you look at it, it was wild".

Storyline: Will history from five years ago repeat itself?

Effective April 11, Hulu will become an official National Hockey League partner for the entirety of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Final. This hate goes way back, even further back than their infamous 2012 showdown. But I would not count out the Devils just yet.

Still, don't think these next two weeks will be bereft of dislike and aggression.

And despite a physically and personally draining six months that included multiple extended absences because of injuries and the loss of his father Jim in January, the 23-year-old insists he'll be ready when the Penguins open the first round of the playoffs against Philadelphia on Wednesday night. If ranking teams 1 through 8 in each conference like the old format that was in place from 1993-94 through 2013, the No. 2 seed is facing the No. 4 seed, 3 versus 7, and 5 versus 6 in the first round in the East and the West this year.

Nothing is dumber than having ice hockey's best games played in the middle of June. Cole's seven points in twenty games from the blue line have helped the Blue Jackets tremendously as they made a push toward the playoffs. Yet if the Ducks can get healthy, they may regain the form that saw them win five straight division crowns and make two trips to the Western Conference finals. Oh, and the Devils have gone 3-0 against the Lightning and are the only team to sweep the Lightning this season in the entire Eastern Conference (per Hockey Reference). The past four playoffs have included a total of 39 fights. Just previous year, the Western Conference points-leading Chicago Blackhawks not only lost to the 41-win Nashville Predators, but were swept. "You probably see the amount of blocked shots go up in the playoffs, the amount of hits - the little things that may not be on the stat sheet is kind of what I guess gets your team through the playoffs".

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Elliott, whose teammates call him "Moose", returned to the lineup and was shaky in a 4-3 win Thursday over Carolina, then had to make only a few hard saves as the Flyers suffocated the Rangers on Saturday, 5-0, and clinched a playoff spot.

There's even a good chance that National Basketball Association playoff games will include two teams both trying to win at the same time, a nice change from the regular season. You might be able start the playoffs on the first of March. Goaltending is much different now than it was in that series. But, just as Crosby and the Penguins bring out the emotions in Flyers fans, they also get under the skin of the players. And it's easy in an emotional game to lose focus.

It is an understatement to say some of the Philadelphia Flyers special teams had a poor season, mainly on the penalty kill. Once you focus on the wins column, the picture of a David-Goliath matchup starts to change. "But we'll see what happens this year with a couple more really good teams being beat out in the second round".

Why the Devils will win it all: The Devils have more playoff experience on their roster than people think.

"I might have used it", he said with a wink. "With sports serving as the centerpiece for many of our live TV viewers, we're always looking for new, innovative ways to engage fans and make sure they never miss a single moment of their favorite games". That's what's fun about it - to have each other's backs and try to come up big for each other.

Pittsburgh Penguin Phil Kessel is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 6, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

Benjamin: For the sake of this rivalry, my heart wants to pick the Flyers.

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