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The more things change...

April 8, 2018, 11:20 AM ET [145 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers will be competing in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring. It will be the first time since the memorable 2012 series. That was six years ago. Different rosters and different coaches. Even different rules for catching cheaters like Danny Briere!

I do want to get one thing straight from the 2012 series. The Penguins played very good hockey and if their goalie didn't run out an all situations save percentage of .818 they would have won. The team was pushing possession at a 56.4% clip and expected goals were 55.5%. Almost any other goalie would have won them the series and that includes the other guy involved in the round that was horrible as well.

It was the last year the Penguins had Jordan Staal as their third line center. That alone should tell you how far in the past this series was. And yet the more things change the more they stay the same.

This year's matchup is still going to favor Pittsburgh. They are a really good team. The Flyers are also good and aren't incapable of winning due to the firepower that they have on their side. Pittsburgh's biggest issue heading into the playoffs will once again be goaltending. Philadelphia also has some questions marks heading into the playoffs with who they will play. The more things change the more they stay the same. Matt Murray is not at the level he was last year. He has to play better than he has. I'm pretty confident that it will be better than .818, but that isn't the standard. Perhaps Murray can flip the same switch Marc-Andre Fleury did last season after having a below average regular season campaign. The Flyers choices come down to Brian Elliott who has barely played and an underperforming Petr Mrazek.

Another similarity from the 2012 series is that the baton talk has resumed. Claude Giroux finally figured out to play hockey at 5v5 again and had a terrific season. He deserves all the praise he receives this year.

Sidney Crosby didn't have his A game for the first half of the season. That would be putting it mildly. He had an atrocious 0.92 points per 60 at 5v5 in his first 40 games. The second half of the season it was 2.39 and in line with where you expect him to be. Regardless of where the metaphorical baton ends up the Flyers will be dealing with Crosby playing his best hockey of the season. Crosby didn't do anything the first half of the 2011-12 season either... another similarity.

Geno is entering the playoffs with a huge edge to his game. Both physically and emotionally. Coincidently he has had his best year since 2011-12.

People are still on Letang's case for defensive miscues despite all the evidence showing that he more than makes up for those atrocities against hockey.

Tom Kuhnhackl is taking over the Craig Adams role.

Assuming Derick Brassard can play this is the best center lineup the Penguins have had since... 2011-12

However, the greatest similarity between any Pittsburgh and Philadelphia series has been and always will be the overreactions. They will be flowing in round one.

Thanks for reading!
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