Blog Entry

Habs back in familiar territory

Posted on: May 23, 2010 9:37 pm

PHILADELPHIA -- They’ve been there and done that so they figure they can do it again.

That’s the approach the Canadiens are taking to their do-or-die Game 5 in Philadelphia, which is about the only one that makes sense right now. Of course there is some logic to it because Montreal has won the five previous elimination games it has played so far in these playoffs too.

“Basically when you're put in this situation, it's really one shift, one period,” said Canadiens center Scott Gomez echoing the team’s party line. “I mean, you can't even look too far ahead, just take the challenges set in front of us. 

“We've had our backs against the wall a lot this year, and we've found a way, so why not again?”

Fair question except that the Canadiens haven’t run up against anyone like the Flyers either.

Truth is Philadelphia is the toughest team Montreal has faced to this point, which may seem strange considering the Habs have beaten the Presidents’ Trophy winners from Washington and the defending Stanley Cup champs from Pittsburgh to get here and the Flyers needed a shootout win on the season’s final day just to qualify for the playoffs. But while the Capitals and Penguins were very good teams, the reality is that neither was as balanced and more important as good defensively as the Flyers are right now.

Those factors have been the difference in the series, and what should be the difference in Game 5. Besides Philadelphia has gotten much better goaltending than either the Capitals of Penguins did, with playoff feel good story Michael Leighton stealing the thunder from Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak so far.

Halak, of course, was the biggest reason the Canadiens won their first two rounds and while he hasn’t been bad in this series, he hasn’t been nearly as sharp as he was earlier. More important, Montreal hasn’t been able to score in three of the four games against Leighton, who came up big in Philadelphia when his team got off to slow starts and benefitted from a smothering defensive display from the skaters in front of him in Game 4.

And that fourth game, which put the Flyers in position to lock up a date at home with the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup, was arguably the most telling thing about what separates Philadelphia and Montreal right now.

The Canadiens arrived in town talking predictably about the things they have to do to stay alive. You know the drill: Be more desperate, move their feet, use their speed, create more traffic in front of Leighton and direct more shots on goal.

“We just have to battle,” said Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik.

Of course they do. But that’s easier that done when going up a big, tough, physical and surprisingly disciplined defense that is headed up by Chris Pronger, who is having a monster series and spending about half of every game on the ice.

Pronger is in a zone now, and so is his partner Matt Carle, along with the Flyers other top four tandem, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn. They are doing a monumental job of keeping the Canadiens to the outside and minimizing good scoring chances, and blocking shots when they don’t. And while Philadelphia is getting important offensive contributions from key players like Danny Briere, Simon Gagne and Mike Richards, secondary types like Claude Giroux and Ville Leino have been kicking things up a notch as well.

That’s another big difference between the two teams right now as well.

But more than anything, Philadelphia looked like it got a wakeup call from its embarrassing loss in Game 3. Coach Peter Laviolette had expressed concern about his team being lackadaisical at times during its two wins at home and was livid after Game 3, and apparently his message got across.

It didn’t hurt that the Flyers leading scorer Jeff Carter, and heart and soul guy Ian Laperriere both returned from injuries in Game 4, which was a boost both offensively and defensively for them.

So Philadelphia looks to be in good shape coming home with momentum the majority of best moments on its side. But they also realize the Canadiens have come back from the brink, just as the Flyers did when they trailed Boston 3-0 in the previous round.

“We can't take them lightly,” Pronger said. “They're obviously a team that has come out very well against when their backs have been against the wall; and we expect nothing less from them.”


Category: NHL

Since: May 21, 2010
Posted on: May 25, 2010 5:45 pm

Habs back in familiar territory

The Habs are getting to much credit for this coming back to win it thing. They came back twice, doesnt mean that they are becoming amazing. People say they got lcuky, I dont think they got lucky but as you saw yesterday the Habs couldnt beat the Flyers, but no one cares about that. It only matters if a team comes back to win it. Habs are a bigger story then the Flyers and guess what they came back from a 3-0 deficete. Have the Habs done that this year... NO. So give the Flyers some credit and the Habs are out so forget them.

Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: May 25, 2010 1:36 pm

Habs back in familiar territory

Whats up now Sammy??  Just keep on picking everyone but the Flyers and we will continue to win.  You have no hockey knowledge.

Since: Mar 7, 2008
Posted on: May 24, 2010 6:36 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Apr 12, 2008
Posted on: May 24, 2010 6:09 pm

Habs back in familiar territory

Flyers are in familar territory too ...when having a chance to eliminate a team they do it the 1st time!!!

lets go flyers!!!!

Since: Sep 6, 2007
Posted on: May 24, 2010 4:48 pm

Habs back in familiar territory

Don't think it's gonna be pretty against Chicago though, but congrats on a likely finals berth.

Since: Nov 20, 2009
Posted on: May 24, 2010 11:50 am

Habs back in familiar territory

I don't thinkl between Washington and Pittsburgh the shutout the Montreal Canadiens three times in the 14 games palyed. The Flyers are a more physical team and playing great defenesive hockey then the anyone right now. The Philadelphia Flyers are also more balance then the Capitals and Penguins were. The Flyers have three scoring lines and a great 4th line checking line. With the game being in Phi;ladelphia tonight the Canadiens are done. GO FLYERS GO!

Since: Mar 28, 2009
Posted on: May 24, 2010 9:27 am

Habs back in familiar territory

Have to disagree with last post about neither team having a chance against the Blackhawks.  Philadelphia is on top of its game and is actually getting healthier at just the right time.  I'm sure many will disagree, but I would only make the Blackhawks a slight favorite over a Flyers team that has won 7 of their last 8, pitched multiple shutouts, and is completely onboard with and executing their coach's system.  Montreal played very talented teams in the Penguins and Caps, but not a group this determined and committed to the defensive end.  The Habs will need a truly heroic effort to come back in this series, and I just don't see it happening again.  However, they should be commended for an awesome run.  It's a shame they were booed at the Bell Center Saturday by their fickle fans.  They deserve better for how well they have played in these playoffs overall.

Since: May 7, 2008
Posted on: May 24, 2010 9:10 am

Habs back in familiar territory

Incorrect KS963107.  They were only down 3-2 against the Pens which would be the reason they have only played in 5 elimination games and not 6.  You are correct in the way things have went in this series, but I wouldn't count the Habs out.  Either way, I'm not sure if either team has much of a chance against the Blackhawks, but I suppose that is why they play the games.

Since: Oct 11, 2008
Posted on: May 24, 2010 6:08 am

Habs back in familiar territory

I disagree. At a high level, yes, the Habs are in familiar territory. But the devil is in the detail right? They have been down 3 - 1 to the Penguins and Capitals but not in 3 shutout losses. The Flyers are playing good team defense. Everyone is playing for each other. I think this series is over tonight. Go Flyers!

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