I have a weird relationship with the Patrick Division. I yearn for its six-team reconstitution. I loved the rivalries it nurtured. In years when it's good, I like using its collective "strength" as a crutch for arguing why the Isles are better than outsiders think they are.
But I have no divisional pride. I cannot do what my dad would do, which is root for those who defeated his team, for the feeble claim that at least he'd lost to the best. No such solace exists for me. I don't want the Islanders' rivals to be best. I want them all to rot.
This is our continuing series of playoff previews for each series. The first one was here. It's in part to get you to vote and share your thoughts on any given series, and in part to gauge your interest in the playoffs. Schedule and stuff is after the jump. For the poll, as usual vote with your head or your heart; I just like pretty moving charts.
|Wednesday, April 14||at New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.||TSN, RIS, MSG+, CSN
|Friday, April 16||at New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.||TSN, locals etc.
|Sunday, April 18||at Philadelphia, 6:00 p.m.||TSN|
|Tuesday, April 20||at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.||TSN2|
|*Thursday, April 22||at New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.||TSN|
|*Sunday, April 25||at Philadelphia, TBD||TSN|
|*Tuesday, April 27||at New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.||TSN|
Versus also must hope these two teams will rot, because it isn't touching this first-round series. Though these records never seem to translate much to the playoffs, the Flyers had the better of New Jersey during the regular season, going 5-1-0. That at least gives me pause.
"Our power play will have to deliver because they'll take some penalties, that's their style."
Man, he sounds like an Islanders fan!
Reasons to Pick the Devils: They're better. They have Martin Brodeur, who is due another round of "look at this legend!" NHL PR. They have Jacques Lemaire, who worked wonders with the Wild whenever they reached this stage. They have Ilya Kovalchuk, who probably has $10 million dollars riding on his performance. Seriously.
Reasons to Pick the Flyers: They ... are an NHL team.
Reasons to Root for the Devils: To see the Flyers lose.
Reasons to Root for the Flyers: ... ... ... ... I'm sorry, did you say something? I was watching a replay of Nystrom's goal.
* * *
In all seriousness: The way Philly played down the stretch, I can't believe they made it. Then I remember their competitors were the Rangers and Thrashers.
If Brian Boucher captures lightning -- yes, that's Modern Day NHL Shutout Streak Record Holder Brian Boucher -- then the Flyers with their physicality and talent could certainly remove their collective emo-dwelling ennui-stuck heads from their bums and channel their God-given talent toward making this a series, maybe even winning it. It's certainly possible, hardly unheard of. Martin Brodeur's recent playoff/Olympic form is ... unsound.
Officiating -- and by "officiating" I mean "calling the rulebook or not" -- could definitely nudge this series either direction. Do they let obstruction go? Do they let Pronger cheap shots go? Does Pronger make it through a whole series without getting suspended?
Head Says: Devils in six. Heart Says: Both arenas are swallowed into the sea, though hopefully WebBard's roomie survives.
And your pick is...?