Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Pens #7
Doing-or-Dying: The higher the stakes, the better they seem to be. Since 1986 – including once two weeks ago – the Habs have won six of eight Game 7s they’ve been a part of, and a 3-0 record against teams not named the Boston Bruins. Wednesday’s game will mark just the second time in franchise history that the Canadiens will play two Game 7s in the same playoffs, most recently occurring in 1971 with rookie netminder Ken Dryden pulling out all the stops and leading the Habs to a 17th Stanley Cup.
Uneven strength: During the regular season, the Canadiens’ Achilles Heel was scoring five-on-five, finishing last in the league with 132 even strength goals. They seem to have remedied that problem in the postseason. With 24 five-on-five goals in 13 playoff games to date, Montreal sits behind only Vancouver and Detroit in that category. Scoring 11 of their 14 goals against the Pens at even strength, the Habs take the edge over their flightless counterparts, who have just six goals not coming with the man advantage or into an empty net.
From the point: With six of the Penguins’ 16 goals coming off the sticks of defensemen so far in the series, the Habs might want to give a little extra TLC to the Pittsburgh blue line in Game 7. Kris Letang leads the way for the Pens with two goals in six games, including one on Monday night at the Bell Centre. Much to the delight of the 21,273 fans in attendance, though, Letang’s marker was one-upped by Habs blue-liner Jaroslav Spacek, who notched his first goal of the postseason after missing the last nine games with a virus.
Working overtime: With less than 21 minutes of postseason experience under his belt heading into the Pittsburgh series, rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has been looking a lot more like a grizzled veteran against the defending Cup champs. With the losses of Spacek, Andrei Markov and Hal Gill throughout the playoffs to date, the 20-year-old has stepped up and filled in for his blue line buddies. Subban played a career-high 29:11 on Monday night, behind only Markov’s 29:32 performance from Game 4 against the Caps for the longest work hours of the postseason.
The Numbers Game - May 10, 2010