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NHL East conference final preview

Vinny Prospal might play an important role for the Flyers.

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Vinny Prospal might play an important role for the Flyers.

Conference final preview

Eastern

Pittsburgh Penguins

Route: Beat the Senators in four, Rangers in five.

How they did it: Being oppressive. The skilled Penguins won their first seven playoff games until the Rangers strung out their series.

Why they'll reach the final: Evgeni Malkin had four goals and three assists against the Rangers. Marian Hossa had four goals and one assist, and Sidney Crosby had six assists.

Why they won't: Skaters don't skate so fast pressed against the boards. The Flyers, who stifled Washington's Alex Ovechkin for most of the opening round, will be a grabby bunch of ruffians.

Philadelphia Flyers

Route: Beat the Capitals in seven, Canadiens in five.

How they did it: Continuing to play with urgency — after a hiccup against the Capitals — after winning several meaningful games just to reach the playoffs as the No. 6 seed.

Why they'll reach the final: Mind-set goes a long way at this time of year, and the Flyers are self-believers entering the Battle of Pennsylvania. And former Lightning standout Vinny Prospal will step up.

Why they won't: Mind-set matters little when Crosby and Malkin hit open ice with the puck.

Brant James, Times staff writer

NHL East conference final preview 05/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008 10:03pm]

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