Game preview #2:Canadiens-Flyers
TV: VERSUS (HD), CBC (HD), RDS (HD)
(Philadelphia leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
Big story -- The Montreal Canadiens have shown an uncanny ability to put bad games behind them this postseason. They will have to draw mightily on that ability to put an embarrassing 6-0 loss in Game 1 in the rear-view mirror. For Philadelphia, it will be interesting to see how it deals with prosperity and a series lead after having to play near-perfect hockey for more than a week in its historic run to erase a three-games-to-none deficit against Boston in the last round.
Canadiens -- Montreal has suffered a lopsided loss in each of the first two rounds, losing 6-3 to Washington in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and by the same score to Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the last round. Each time, though, the Canadiens rallied for a win in the following game, beating the Capitals 2-1 and Penguins 3-1.
Now, Montreal must do it again to avoid going down two games to none in this series.
"It was one of those nights," forward Scott Gomez said. "We've got guys; we've all been through it. It could have been an overtime loss, but it's still a loss. We'll regroup and we'll let this one go."
Gomez is speaking of the veteran core of which he is a part. Gomez, Brian Gionta, Travis Moen and defenseman Hal Gill have all completed the journey to the Stanley Cup and know there are dark days along that road.
"I don't think frustration is the right word for us," said forward Michael Cammalleri, Montreal's leading goal scorer. "We're not a group that easily frustrates, and that's not going to help us. We'll definitely fight frustration and make sure we don't have that in our room."
To win in Game 2, Montreal will have to do a better job of clearing the area around its goalie. The Flyers drove the net relentlessly in Game 1, driving Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak to distraction with the constant net-front presence.
Offensively, the Canadiens will have to recapture the intensity they showed in the first period when they outshot Philadelphia, 13-6. Montreal will also have to find a way to generate sustained pressure, as most of its quality chances were one-off affairs.
Flyers -- Philadelphia insists it will not get caught up in the ease of the Game 1 victory.
"It's just one game," forward Danny Briere said. "We know they're going to come back a lot better, a lot stronger in their next game. For us, the goal was to keep the home ice advantage, win the two games -- so we're just halfway there.
"You know, we need to win the next game at home; that's (what) we have to concentrate on. From now on, we can't spend too much time thinking about what happened tonight. So we have to clear our minds from it. We're happy about the win, but let's move on and concentrate on the next game now."
Game 1 certainly provides a blueprint of what the Flyers need to do in Game 2. They used a dominant power play to change the tide of the game, scoring the first and third goals with the man advantage and adding another goal just one second after the expiration of a penalty.
"We had a couple of bounces," captain Mike Richards said. "We had a couple of really nice shots, and capitalized on the power plays that we were given. They came out strong, they controlled the play for the most part in the first period, and we were just opportunistic tonight."
Six different players scored Sunday for the Flyers, who showed a willingness as the game went on to wait out the attempts of Montreal’s players to block shots.
On the defensive end of the ice, Philadelphia did a masterful job of shutting down Cammalleri and Gionta, the most effective of the Montreal forwards.
"They're going to have their nights," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "It's up to us to limit them as much as we can and keep them to the outside; try to keep them out of that high-scoring area out in the slot area.
"We did a great job up front of backside pressure, not allowing them the turn-ups and delay plays that they're very good at. Trying to just deny them the puck in the scoring areas where they like to get it."
Who's hot -- Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk has goals in back-to-back games after going without a score in his first 11 games. Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist in Game 1 and was a plus-4. Briere also had a goal and an assist in Game 1 and has goals in four of his past five games. He also has three multiple-point games during that span. Goalie Michael Leighton, pressed into duty for the injured Brian Boucher in Game 5 of the Boston series, recorded his first playoff shutout Sunday, making 28 saves.
While Montreal was shut out in Game 1, Cammalleri remains among the hottest players in the postseason with 12 goals in 15 games.
Injury report -- Both teams are waiting to see if a key cog can make it into the lineup. Jeff Carter has been out since the first round with a broken bone in his foot. He skated for the first time Monday, doing 15 minutes before the start of practice. There is also an outside chance that Ian Laperriere could return soon from a head injury he suffered in the first round. He was cleared for contact Tuesday and must now get in game shape.
For Montreal, it is the fate of Andrei Markov that remains up in the air. Markov suffered a serious knee injury in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but has been skating with the team for the past couple of days.
Stat pack -- Leighton is 3-0 in his three playoff starts and has allowed just 4 goals in those starts, stopping 80 of 84 shots. … Montreal continues to block shots, coming up with 20 blocks in Game 1. Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and Maxime Lapierre led the way with 4 blocks each. … Philadelphia set the tone physically in this game, dishing out 27 hits. Darroll Powe led the way with 5 hits. … The 6-0 loss in Game 1 was Montreal’s worse playoff loss since 1919. Halak, pulled in Game 1, is 2-0 in starts following games in which he was pulled.
Puck drop -- Both sides agree that a far better Montreal team will show up in Game 2.
"Game 2's going to be a battle," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It really is, and that's why I said we're going to have to be better. It's easy to look at the score and think it was easy. Montreal got here, you know, for a reason. Our team, we're going to have to play a better hockey game."
The Canadiens have plenty of experience facing adversity as they have already faced five elimination games. So they will make adjustments, figuring out a way to deal with Philadelphia’s punishing forecheck and net-front presence.
"I think our group does a good job of facing adversity and this is no different," said goalie Carey Price, who replaced Halak in the second period. "I don’t think we're going to push any panic buttons because it's still early and you have to win four games."
A new beginning
Pre-game comments: Michael Cammalleri
Pre-game comments: Hal GIll
Pre-game comments: Josh Gorges
Pre-game comments: Jacques Martin
Ok, now what?
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Flyers #2