Series Preview: Flyers vs. Canadiens

Philadelphia Flyers (ben55fan/wikimedia)

The Montreal Canadiens have achieved something pretty spectacular this postseason. The eighth seed in the East, and the team with the worst record among playoff qualifiers knocked off two of the best teams in the NHL. Two highscoring teams, filled with a bunch of superstars. They frustrated and shut-out some of the best players in the league with a suffocating defensive system and a red-hot goalie. They also boast the highest goal scorer in the playoffs so far in Mike Cammalleri. Yes, the Habs have written quite a story so far. However, their opponents for the Eastern Conference finals, the Philadelphia Flyers, decided to steal Montreal’s thunder, and accomplish something even more impressive. Down 3 games to none to the Boston Bruins, the Flyers slowly and surely climbed their way back to tie the series at three. In game 7, they found themselves down 3-0, but found a way to come back, and won 4-3, in the game, and the series. Now these two unlikely foes will battle for the right to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Here’s how the 7th and 8th seeds match-up.

Goaltending: Advantage Montreal

Despite Michael Leighton’s impressive play, this one is a no brainer. Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak has been the story of the playoffs, shutting out Washington and Pittsburgh respectively, and frustrating some of the most talented snipers in the league. If he continues his Patrick Roy like run, the Habs can stamp their ticket to the cup finals.

Forwards: Advantage Philadelphia

This was a close one, because the Habs offense starting with Mike Cammalleri has been very opportunistic. But Tomas Plecanek and Scott Gomez haven’t been lighting the lamp much lately, and if Philly’s big defence starts to shut down the smaller Habs forwards, they could be hard pressed to score. Montreal is usually outshot in their games, and may have to tweak their attack to generate more scoring chances. The Flyers boast talent such as Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Daniel Briere and Simon Gagne, and they’re on fire right now.

Defense: Even

Yes, despite the presence of big Chris Pronger and the effective play of Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, and Bradon Cobourn, the Flyers don’t quite have the edge. On paper, they might, but games aren’t played on paper on Montreal has shown throughout this playoff run. Hal Gill and Josh Gorges have done an incredible job at shutting down the opposition’s stars, and rookie P.K Subban has been playing with confidence much beyond his 21 years. And the good news for Montreal is that all star Andrei Markov has been skating, and may make his return this series since going down with an ACL injury in round two.

Summary: The Flyers have to wear down the Habs, who have just not been challenged physically enough this postseason. Neither team is intimidated by anyone thanks to their improbable runs so far. So Philly needs to get to Jaroslav Halak. He has looked breakable at various times, and they need to expose those weaknesses. The Habs have to get through Chris Pronger and the Philly defense, which may pose as a challenge. They have to test Michael Leighton and continue to make the most of their chances. Will the Habs luck finally run out, or are the Flyers just another stepping stone to their Cup aspirations?

Prediction: Montreal Canadiens in 6 games

5 thoughts on “Series Preview: Flyers vs. Canadiens”

  1. if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the playoffs, is that raw talent is not the reason u win the cup, and Montreal is showing that. I would describe it like this:

    a) u need to have the drive and desire to do whatever it takes to win.
    b) u need to play as a team, believe in each other and sacrifice for each other.
    c) u need a hot goalie. not a superstar goalie, a hot goalie who steals some games for u.
    d) u need a bit of luck and some bounces to go your way
    e) then the talent comes in

    In the case Montreal, they have all that. Wash and Pitt didn’t have a lot of those things I listed.

  2. I’ll tell you what Dave and Bruce. What I saw from the Habs against the Capitals was a lot of resiliency and the ability to keep it close and hang in there and go for the knockout at the end. Like you said Bruce you said something similar before game 1 of the Pens series and so did I. I thought the Pens would win the series. I saw enough from the Habs against Washington to think they would stick around for at least 6 games though, and as the playoffs prove, you never know what can happen. With that being said I think the Flyers defensemen when playing at their highest level are certainly more defensive minded then Washington and Pittsburgh’s D and goaltending left a lot of be desired in the series. Gonchar not taking the body on Moen was one of the most disgusting efforts I have ever seen by an NHL player. I was embarrassed for him. Garbage effort. I picked the Flyers in 7 but I can certainly see it going the other way. It’s going to be a great series.

    • Hi Justin,

      I don’t think I’ll be making any bets on this one. My gut tells me it may come down to goaltending and Montreal has the advantage there…can’t wait until 7pm – Should be a real treat for hockey fans in both cities.

  3. I am a Habs fan, but foresee Flyers overpowering Mtl.;
    Richards and company just better esp now that Simon Gagn’e producing

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