Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Canadiens-Flyers: Can Montreal Rebound in Game 2 Versus Philadelphia?

We've seen this movie before, no? The one where the Habs come out flat and lose a game only to rebound triumphantly in the following match. Right?

That's the way the story goes, or at least the way it has gone thus far in the 2010 NHL playoffs.

So why is it then that the majority of Habs nation is feeling less confident than at any other point during the playoffs so far?

I mean, the Canadiens were down 3-1 in their first round matchup against the Caps. Shouldn't that have been more daunting?

Perhaps it was.

I think what is bothering Habs fans this morning, has more to do with the Canadiens current opponents than what the Habs themselves are capable of doing.

While both Washington and Pittsburgh presented formidable opposition for the Canadiens, they are both teams whose play is based largely on skill.

Now, both teams also bring a physical edge to their games, but their force majeure is skill and not force.

The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, while extremely deep with talent, have a boatload of size, grit, belligerence, and scoring on all four lines.

That is something that the Habs have not yet had to contend with.

As evidenced throughout the regular season, the speedy, skilled Habs tend to play better against teams who employ skill first, rather than force.

The Flyers, to their credit, bring both to the table and the small Habs forwards had a lot of trouble contending with it in Game One.

Now, we must keep in mind that while the Flyers played a good game on Sunday, the Canadiens simply did not show up. So there is a lot of room for improvement.

I believe that the Habs will bring a much better game today and will make a much better effort to get to the net, screen goalie Michael Leighton, and try to get secondary scoring chances.

The problem, again, is that given the sheer size of the Flyers' players, this will be no easy task for the vertically challenged Habs.

While no one really wants to talk about it, there is a sense that the Flyers might bring a game to the table that the Habs cannot counter, despite their success at making between game adjustments so far.

I am sure that Coach Martin will want his players to dump the puck in more and create foot races that his nimble forwards can win. And, if they can move their feet enough, maybe they can even get the Flyers to take some penalties.

Who knows?

Tonight is Game Two of the series and while they say that you're never in trouble in the playoffs till you lose a game at home, I believe that the Canadiens performance tonight will go a long way in dictating how this series plays out.

If the Canadiens can get to the net, use their speed to their advantage, and fight through the larger Flyers to win the game, I think this series will go long. Six or Seven games, with the Habs having a legitimate chance at winning.

If, however, the Flyers crush the Canadiens again tonight, I think this series might be over in a hurry. Say, five games, with the Habs grabbing one at home.

So all of the "...we didn't bring out 'A' game..." and "...our level of compete wasn't where it should be..." and "...they wanted it more than us..." in the world just amounts to "...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah..." right now.

Make no mistake about it, the Canadiens have an enormous task in front of them tonight and I believe that their performance will dictate their playoff fate.

What do you think? Can they pull it off? Are the Flyers too much for the Habs? Is this series going to go long? Short?


They better be flying in the direction of Leighton,instead of reverse. "One and done" was the Versus mantra in the second period which described the Hab offense...the Jersey trap may have contained swashbuckler stars (in the recent past but that's history)... the Flyer's are a different animal. Pour it on, is the way to go.

What do I think? I think Muller & Co. had better watch tapes of the 1st 3 games of the Boston series, when Boston was running a neutral zone clinic on the Flyers, and ran a beautiful PK against them also. I think JM needs to prove me wrong once again, by being an effective and strategically sound coach. I think Pearn better figure out why our PP has steadily declined since the Caps series. I think Les Boys need to come out to play, and play hard. I think the Flyers need to get overwhelmed by the Storm of the Smurfs, even if they do anticipate it.

Can they pull it off? Yes. They CAN. Will they? Dunno yet.

Are the Flyers too much for the Habs? No. Not if they don't allow it, and play their game instead of trying to play into Philly's game.

Is this series going to go long? Short? I think game 2 will be more indicative of that. Hard to tell after game 1 alone, because really, Les Boys haven't even started this series yet.

I'll vote long though, just cause that's been their MO so far this post-season.

Well said, Anonymous!

Habs have to take the play to the Flyers and GET to the net. That is no easy task considering the size mismatch.

But the players with size, like Moen and Pouliot, HAVE to start banging and sacrificing their bodies of this is gonna get ugly.

Well said, Tyg.

I too am waiting to see what JM has up his sleeves.

I also think the Habs have to absolutley lock down the neutral zone and the PK and use their speed to win foot races.

This will cause the Flyers to clutch and grab and hopefully draw penalties.

I just heard the craziest thing on Twitter. If gameday skates are any indication, and they usually are, Ryan O'Byrne will NOT play tonight but Sergei Kostitsyn might.


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