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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Flyers #2

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
The sin bin: After seeing the Flyers connect on two of their six power play opportunities in the opening tilt, staying out of the box will likely be priority No. 1 for the Habs in Game 2. While the focus in Round 1 was on the Capitals’ potent power play, the Flyers are no slouches with the man advantage themselves, owning the NHL’s third best efficiency in the regular season. Philly finished the year 0.4% behind Montreal with a 21.4% PP rating and currently leads the league in power play opportunities with 66 so far in the postseason.

Shoot to kill: Proving it’s not quantity but quality that matters at this time of year, the Canadiens have been defying the law of large numbers throughout the playoffs thus far. After out-shooting the Flyers 28-25 in Game 1 and losing 6-0, the Habs’ record dropped to 0-4 when getting more shots for than against in a game. The Canadiens inexplicably own a stellar 8-3 record when Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price face more shots than their opponent. But here’s the kicker: the Flyers also fare better when getting outshot, owning a 6-3 record when doing so in the postseason. Turns out, the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds both feel more comfortable playing the role of underdogs afterall…

In a second: In life, timing is everything. While the Canadiens have made good use of getting on the board early in these playoffs, the Flyers prefer to wait roughly 20 minutes to pounce on their opponents. The Habs will have to make sure to talk about shot-blocking and tight defense in the first intermission from here on out, since Philly has scored almost half of their goals – 21 of 43 – in second frames to date. 

Tabula rasa: After being blanked by Michael Leighton to kick off the series, the Habs will go back to the drawing board to solve the Flyers’ on-again-off-again-on-again netminder. One strategy? Give it to Andrei Kostitsyn or Tomas Plekanec. While playoff scoring leader Michael Cammalleri drew a lot of attention from Philly D-men in Game 1, the Canadiens’ potential Flyer-killers shouldn’t be ignored, either. Since 2007-08, the Habs have played the Broad Street Bullies 12 times in the regular season. Kostitsyn got in on the scoring in six of those games, and all six ended with a Montreal win. When Pleky gets on the scoresheet against Philly, Montreal has an equally sparkling record, going 4-0 in those outings..

Ring fingers: With a dressing room filled with guys who have been down this road and back, don’t expect the Habs to be hitting the panic button after their loss in Game 1. While the lone Cup champ available to dole out advice in the Philly locker room is Chris Pronger, his teammate in Anaheim in 2006-07, Travis Moen is giving those exact same pointers out in the visitor’s room. When Moen’s not around to speak up and rally the troops, fellow former Cup winners Hal Gill, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez – who has two shiny rings to show for his time in New Jersey – are there to keep the troops in line.

See also:
Familiar territory 
Habs drop Game 1 
The Mole 
2010 Playoffs Central
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