FLYERS CAN PUT OFF THEIR VACAY WITH A WIN TONIGHT IN PITT!

By Sally Fahey

For the Flyers, tonight’s game 5 against the Pens in Pittsburgh represents a last chance to save a series or go on a five-month vacay:

Here’s how the first-round series has gone down:

  • Game 1, Wednesday, April 11: Penguins 7, Flyers 0
  • Game 2, Friday, April 13: Flyers 5, Penguins 1
  • Game 3, Sunday, April 15: Penguins 5, Flyers 1
  • Game 4, Wednesday, April 18: Penguins 5, Flyers 0
  • Game 5, Tonight, Flyers at Penguins, 7 p.m. — NBCSN,
  • *Game 6, Sunday, April 22: Penguins at Flyers, TBD
  • *Game 7, Tuesday, April 24: Flyers at Penguins, TBD

OFFENSE

This is a little closer than you’d think, because Claude Giroux is a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and Sean Couturier is working on a career year. But this is also the Penguins we’re talking about. Even if their numbers weren’t impressive (and they are), they still have such a blatant advantage in experience. Behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh has depth, too, deploying guys like Phil Kessel and Derrick Brassard on third-line minutes. Either way, the offensive fireworks shouldn’t be lacking, as there are eight players with at least 24 goals between the two teams.

Edge: Penguins

DEFENSE

This is where Philly has the best chance to swing the series. Against just a so-so Pittsburgh blue line that’s featured some notable Kris Letang slip-ups and allowed more goals than any other team in the playoffs, the Flyers should have plenty of chances to put pressure on Matt Murray. It’s not as if the Flyers are invincible on this end, especially considering the question marks in the net and their own inconsistencies, but if there’s an area on the Pens that can be exploited, it’s the “D.”

Edge: Flyers

GOALTENDING

By Penguins goalie standards, Murray hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype in his first season as the full-time net-minder post-Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh’s numbers are actually worse than Philadelphia’s, too. And yet, while the Flyers have enough talent to overwhelm Murray for a game or two, it seems like a stretch to bank on the unpredictable duo of Petr Mrazek andBrian Elliott over the proven postseason prowess of the Pens until further notice.

Edge: Penguins

SPECIAL TEAMS

This is the most obvious mismatch of the bunch, and it bodes extremely well for the defending champs. Whereas Pittsburgh boasts the NHL’s top power-play unit, the Flyers have been near the bottom of the league when it comes to penalty killing. Philly was also bottled up on its own power plays (2-for-16) during the two sides’ regular-season meetings, and in a series that figures to bring out everyone’s physicality, it’s hard not to see them steering completely clear of the penalty box.

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