On The NHL Playoffs
The Philadelphia Flyers routed the Montreal Canadiens 6-0 Sunday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals behind an offensive attack that had contributions from all areas.
The Flyers chased Jaroslav Halak from the net after scoring four goals on their first 13 shots. Braydon Coburn opened the scoring for Philadelphia and James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Simon Gagne followed with goals.
The Flyers created a number of matchup problems for the Canadiens but most importantly their ability to crash the net was the difference and will continue to be the difference throughout the series.
Montreal is at their best when they can focus on skilled players with a trapping style and clog the neutral zone. Personnel wise Philadelphia is going to bring an aggressive hard fore-checking style on a nightly basis with a primary focus on net front traffic and that’s going to cause Montreal problems.
Another reason to bet on the Flyers ending the Canadiens surprising run and advancing to the Stanley Cup final is the presence of Chris Pronger to shutdown Mike Cammalleri.
According to some evaluators, Pronger has not played this kind of dominant defense since the 1999-2000 season when he was the M.V.P. of the league with the St. Louis.
Just a few months ago, Pronger was regarded by some as a primary reason for the Flyers struggles during the regular season.
Pronger limited Cammelleri to just one shot in game 1 and unlike the Penguins who failed to make Cammelleri a priority until game 7, the Flyers coaching staff made Cammelleri a priority before the drop of the puck in game 1. “We’ve seen what he’s done, scoring 12 goals in the first two rounds,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said during a press conference on Saturday. “We’d better be ready for him, ” Laviolette added in his pre-game 1 comments.
The Flyers were not a better team than Pittsburgh or Washington during the regular season but the NHL playoffs is all about matchups and personnel wise they matchup better against Montreal and look for Philadelphia to do what Pittsburgh and Montreal couldn’t do; Eliminate the Canadiens.
Meanwhile, Flyers center Jeff Carter (foot) has been cleared to skate and expected to return to the lineup at some point in the series, maybe as early as Game 4 or 5 (if necessary).