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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Flyers #3

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Powering up: After cruising along at a 21.8% clip in the regular season, the Habs have dropped to just 18.6% with the man advantage in the playoffs to date. For their part, the Flyers have carried their strong power play efficiency with them into the springtime, going 24.3% on the PP, including a 4-for-10 clip against the Canadiens so far in the Eastern Conference finals. Montreal’s penalty killers will also be looking to get back into the groove that saw them hold the regular season’s top power play in Washington to one goal in 33 chances in Round 1.

Opposite day: While less shots usually equals fewer goals and wins, that’s not been the case for the Habs this postseason. In both of the Canadiens losses to the Flyers so far, Montreal has outshot Philly by 28-25 and 30-23 margins, dropping to 0-5 when outshooting their opponents in the 2010 Playoffs. As frustrated Capitals and Penguins snipers discovered over the past two rounds, getting more shots than the Canadiens hasn’t been a recipe for success, with the Habs going 8-3 when Jaroslav Halak has faced a shooting gallery in a postseason outing.

Rally caps: While down being down 0-2 hasn’t been an automatic death sentence for the Canadiens over the years, carrying such a lead has been money in the bank for the Flyers. Since joining the NHL in 1967-68, Philly is a perfect 16-0 in best-of-seven series they’ve led 2-0. As both the No. 8 Habs and No. 7 Flyers have proven just by being in the Conference finals together, however, the past isn’t always the best predictor of the future.

Finding the holes: He may only have five postseason games under his belt, but Michael Leighton has made the most of his short time in the Flyers’ crease. In addition to his four wins, .969 save percentage and 0.87 goals-against average, Leighton is also leading the NHL in playoff shutouts – both of which have come against the Canadiens. For the Habs to rally back from a 2-0 series deficit, they’ll have to solve the Flyers’ suddenly-hot netminder by crease-crashing, screening and rebounding their way to wins.

Second line of defense: Since the playoffs kicked off in mid-April, the Canadiens have been putting their bodies on the line, blocking shot after shot and stymieing some of the league’s top snipers. Collectively blocking 355 shots so far in the postseason, the Habs have thrown themselves in the way of 123 more shots than the Blackhawks, the second-most black and blue team this spring. On average, the Canadiens block 21 shots a night, but were able to turn aside just 20 and 15 shots respectively in Games 1 and 2 – a far cry from the astounding 41 blocks they had in Game 7 against Washington.

See also:
Pushing back
Shut out in Game 2
Not so fast… 
2010 Playoffs Central
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