With the Flyers idle all week after being the first Eastern Conference team to advance while every other series went the full seven-game distance, we’ve had literally no idea who they might face in the second round. Depending on how the three game 7s went, it could have been anyone. Tonight, we learned that it won’t be the Boston Bruins, who lost to the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals, nor will it be the top-seeded New York Rangers, as there will now be at least one team seeded lower than the fifth-seeded Flyers playing in the next round.
Tomorrow night, two more game 7′s will be played—New Jersey at Florida and Ottawa at New York. A mile from the first round of the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall, the Rangers’ season is on the line at Madison Square Garden. Of all these series, it’s somewhat amazing the 4-5 matchup between the Flyers and Penguins was the first to end. Let the rust vs rest debate begin if it hasn’t already.
Up in Boston, as if the game 7 drama weren’t enough, the Capitals’ win came in overtime, when Mike Knuble collected a blocked Bruins dump-in, skated it through the neutral zone and all the way to the goal, then put a tough backhand shot on Tim Thomas. Joel Ward put home the winner, and TD Garden fell silent.
A look at the goal, which was controversial, plus how tomorrow night’s games will dictate the Flyers’ second-round opponent, below.
Knuble has had a rough season in Washington, often relegated to low-line work and plenty of time as a healthy scratch. His PT became a bone of contention with a vocal segment of fans, and he came through for them on Wednesday night. Knuble’s always had a nose for the net, and let’s be clear, if the Flyers got bounced on the OT winner that just ended the Bruins’ season, I’d be livid. Knuble’s momentum continued into the crease, where he made contact (nothing crazy, but contact nonetheless) with Thomas, seemingly affecting the goalie’s ability to make a save on the rebound attempt by Ward.
Credit the Bruins—they didn’t linger or flip out on the non-call. They waited out the goal celebration and lined up for the handshake, and the congratulatory exchange seemed as genuine as this tradition gets.
Last year’s Cup winners and runners up are out in round one. The latter were President’s Trophy winners, and the 2012 Vegas favorites for winning it all (the Pens) are also out. Gotta love playoff hockey.
So who will the Flyers play?
If New York and New Jersey win, the Flyers play the Devils.
If New York and Florida win, the Flyers play the Panthers.
If Ottawa and New Jersey win, the Flyers play the Senators.
If Ottawa and Florida win, the Flyers play the Capitals.
It’s still pretty wide open, but we know it won’t be the Rangers. And we’re not ashamed to be happy about that.
Who do you want next?