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Canadiens vs. Flyers Series Storylines

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
SERIES STORYLINES


Canadian Reunion:  Canadiens G Carey Price,  Flyers D Ryan Parent and F Steve Downie all played key roles in Team Canada's gold-medal victory at the 2007 World Junior Championships.  Canadiens Fs Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Chipchura also played with Downie and Parent on Team Canada's gold-medal team in 2006.

It's Been A While: Flyers head coach John Stevens and Canadiens’ assistant coach Kirk Muller both were selected in the 1984 Entry Draft -- Muller second overall by New Jersey and Stevens 47th overall by the Flyers. They played against each other in 1983-84 in the OHL (Stevens for Oshawa and Muller for Guelph).

It's Been A While II: Montreal and Philadelphia haven't faced each other in the playoffs since the 1989 Conference Final. The Canadiens, led by current coach Guy Carbonneau and General Manager Bob Gainey, defeated the Flyers, four games to two.

Undefeated:  For the second consecutive series, the Canadiens will meet an opponent against which they had a perfect record in the regular season. Montreal defeated Boston in all eight games between the teams and swept Philadelphia 4-0, outscoring the Flyers, 15-6.  The Canadiens have a six-game win streak against the Flyers -- the last time Philadelphia beat Montreal was a 4-2 win on Nov. 25, 2006.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

NHL Playoff Appearance: 76
Stanley Cups: 23 (Last: 1993)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 87-51
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 397-269-8

KEY DATES

Oct. 26/07 -- Against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Canadiens score five power-play goals in one game, marking the first time since Feb. 15, 1975 (against Chicago) they had scored that many power-play goals in one contest.

Dec. 13/07 -- Sergei Kostitsyn and older brother Andrei become the 13th brother combination in team history to dress for a game with the Canadiens, and the first two European siblings to do so. Against Toronto two days later, the Kostitsyns became the latest brother duo to collect a point each in the same game since Patrick and Stephan Lebeau (Feb. 23, 1991 vs. Toronto).

Jan. 31/08 -- The Kostitsyns become the first pair of brothers to score a goal in the same game for Montreal since Frank and Pete Mahovlich did it: in the regular season on March 23, 1974 (vs. St. Louis) and April 14, 1974 (vs. the NY Rangers) in the playoffs.

Feb. 4/08 – The Canadiens summon G Carey Price from their Hamilton AHL team.

Feb. 26/08 – Canadiens trade G Cristobal Huet to Washington for a second-round pick in 2009.

CANADIENS STORYLINES

The Price is right:  With a 5-0 victory over Boston on Apr. 21, Carey Price became just the fourth rookie goaltender in NHL history to record a shutout in a Game 7.  The others were: Glenn Resch of the NY Islanders at Pittsburgh (1975); Felix Potvin of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. St. Louis (1993); and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Anaheim Ducks at Calgary (2006).

The Price is right II:  The 20-year-old Price also became the first rookie to record a shutout in a 1-0 playoff game since Evgeni Nabokov did it for the San Jose Sharks in 2001.  He’s the fifth rookie in Montreal history to do so, joining Patrick Roy (1986), Steve Penney (1985), Gerry McNeil (1951) and George Hainsworth (1927).

The Price is right III: Price became just the fifth rookie NHL goalie in the last 15 years to win four games in his first career playoff round:  He joins Ottawa’s Ray Emery, Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and Carolina’s Cam Ward (all of whom did so in 2006) and Philadelphia’s Brian Boucher in 2000.

Price
The Price is right IV: In 2006-07, Price was named tournament MVP in leading Canada to the gold medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships. He also was named the top goaltender in Canadian major junior hockey, captured the Calder Cup championship with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate in Hamilton and was voted AHL playoff MVP. Price, who was summoned from Hamilton on Feb. 4 and led the Canadiens' charge to the Eastern Conference regular-season title, became the first goaltender aged 20 years or less to win 20 games in a season since Tom Barrasso and Patrick Roy did it in 1985-86.

Komisarek on Komisarek:  Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek leads all playoff performers in blocked shots with 26.  He also led all NHL players in blocked shots in the regular-season (227) and ranked second in hits (266) to LA Kings’ Dustin Brown.  "You want to play with a mean streak; you want to play with an edge out there, but at the same time you want to be under control and tough to play against. You're looking for a happy medium. You have to be on the edge, trying to find out how far you can push it.  It's not a glamorous thing -- it's blocking shots, hitting guys, but it's something I enjoy doing. It's using this body for trying to get in the way, breaking up plays, blocking shots. Making guys on the other team pay the price and taking away the will (from opponents) to play and compete. Some games, you go home and your adrenaline is still rushing and you don't feel the pain, but you wake up with it the next morning.  But there are tougher ways to make a living.”

Koivu’s comeback:  After suffering a fractured left foot on March 28 against Buffalo, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu missed the final four regular-season games and the first five playoff games against Boston.  He returned for Game 6 and registered two assists while centering a line with Chris Higgins and Sergei Kostitsyn. He played 15:02 in that game and won 15 of 21 face-offs. Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau on Koivu: “He’s always been the kind of player that when games are important in tight situations, you can always count on him.  He’s the kind of guy who you know is going to show up and play hard.”

Kovalev time:  Canadiens RW Alexei Kovalev led the League in power-play points with 47. He is Montreal's first 35-goal scorer since 1995-96, when Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse tied for the team lead with 38 each. Kovalev is the fourth Russian-trained player to reach the 1,000-game milestone, following Sergei Fedorov, Alexei Zhitnik and Sergei Zubov.

Kostitsyn
What a difference a year makes:  A year ago, Canadiens LW Sergei Kostitsyn was playing in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs with the London Knights on a line with Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner.  The trio combined for 81 points in 16 playoff games before being eliminated in the third round to Plymouth (Apr. 26). A year later, the rookie is tied with Alex Kovalev for the Canadiens scoring lead with 3-3-6.

Sergei II:  On Apr.13 against the Bruins, Sergei Kostitsyn became the second player in Canadiens history to score a goal in each of his first two playoff games (Stephan Lebeau, 1990).

The Kostitsyns:  In Game 1 of the Montreal-Boston series, appearing in their first-ever Stanley Cup playoff game, the Kostitsyn brothers (Sergei and Andrei) scored goals 1:28 apart in the first period.  The pair became the first Montreal brother act to both score in a post-season match since Peter and Frank Mahovlich did it on April 14, 1974 against the NY Rangers.  They also became the third-fastest brother act to score in a playoff game:
  • 27 seconds, Bill Cook (2:34), Bun Cook (3:01), NY Rangers – 2nd period, 03/26/33 vs. Montreal.
  • 58 seconds, Peter Mahovlich (12:36), Frank Mahovlich, (13:34), Montreal – 3rd period, 04/29/73 vs. Chicago.
  • 1:28,  Sergei Kostitsyn (0:34), Andrei Kostitsyn (2:02), Montreal – 1st period, 04/10/08 vs. Boston).
Smolinski
Smolinski’s experience:  In Game 1 of the Canadiens-Bruins series, Montreal’s Bryan Smolinski scored a playoff goal with his sixth different NHL team, tying an NHL record shared by Doug Gilmour (St. Louis, Calgary, Toronto, New Jersey, Buffalo and Montreal) and Mike Sillinger (Detroit, Philadelphia, Florida, St. Louis, Nashville and the New York Islanders). Smolinski previously had scored with Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Vancouver.
   
Power outage: After leading the NHL in power-play goals (90) and power-play percentage (24.1) in the regular-season, the Canadiens scored only three power-play goals in their opening-round conquest of Boston.  Montreal went 3-for-33 (9.1%) in the seven-game series.

PK getting it done:  After ranking 15th in the regular-season in penalty-killing (82.5%), the Canadiens rank among the playoff leaders in that department. They surrendered only three power-play goals during 30 times shorthanded (90.0%).
   
A lucky tie:  Canadiens’ coach Guy Carbonneau ran his record to a perfect 3-0 when wearing his lucky tie when the Canadiens defeated the Bruins in Game 7.  After receiving the Hermes Paris label as a birthday gift, Carbonneau wore the tie on Mar. 24, when the Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators 7-5 to clinch a playoff berth. He wore it again on Apr. 10 in Montreal’s series-opening 4-1 win against Boston and also wore it for Game 7, when the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins on Apr. 21.  "She's still laughing about it. They're still talking about it. It's unbelievable," said Carbonneau, who intends to put the tie up for auction at a charity event this summer:  

SC rings:  Behind the Canadiens’ bench are Guy Carbonneau, who won three Stanley Cup rings as a player (two with Montreal, one with Dallas); Doug Jarvis (four rings as a player with Montreal, one more as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars’ 1999 champion) and Kirk Muller (one ring with the 1993 Canadiens). Upstairs, GM Bob Gainey won five rings as a player with Montreal, then managed Dallas to the 1999 title.
 
Oh, Captain: Today’s Canadiens are managed or coached by the men who were captains of the team from 1981-95. GM Bob Gainey was the Canadiens’ captain from 1981-89. He was replaced by a tandem of Guy Carbonneau and Chris Chelios from 1989-90, then Carbonneau went solo from 1990-94. Carbonneau was succeeded by Kirk Muller for 1994-95.


PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

NHL Playoff Appearance: 32nd (first since 2005-06)
Stanley Cups: 2 (1974, 1975)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 37-29
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 184-169

KEY DATES

Oct. 4/07 -- Prized free agent acquisition C Daniel Briere scored two goals, including the breakaway winner late in third period, as the Flyers opened the season with a 3-2 victory at Calgary.

Dec. 11/07 -- RW Joffrey Lupul and C R.J. Umberger each recorded hat tricks, with Lupul adding three assists for a career-high six points, in an 8-2 victory over Pittsburgh. It marked the first time since Mar. 7, 1985 that two Flyers recorded hat tricks in the same game (Tim Kerr and Dave Poulin).

Feb. 19/08 -- The Flyers obtained D Jaroslav Modry from Los Angeles for a 3rd-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.

Feb. 25/08 -- The Flyers snapped a 10-game winless slide with a 4-3 comeback victory at Buffalo. The Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit for the win, capped by former Sabre Daniel Briere scoring the decisive goal in the shootout.
Feb. 25/08 -- The Flyers acquired LW Vaclav Prospal from Tampa Bay for D Alexandre Picard and either a second or third-round draft pick in 2009.

March 15/08 -- C Mike Richards scored in his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nine games in a 3-2 overtime loss at Boston. The Flyers went 5-2-2 without their leading scorer.

FLYERS STORYLINES

Most improved: The Flyers finished the 2007-08 regular season with 95 points (42-29-11), a 39-point improvement over 2006-07 (22-48-12, 56 points). They were the NHL's most improved club, ahead of Washington (+24), Boston (+18), Chicago (+17), Edmonton (+17) and Phoenix (+16).  The Flyers also made the League's biggest defensive turnaround from last season. The team reduced its goals-against by 70 from 303 in 2006-07 to 233 in 2007-08.

Welcome home:  Gatineau, Quebec native Daniel Briere returns home to his native province on Thursday to face the Canadiens in Game 1.  Briere on his earliest Stanley Cup memory:  “I remember in 1986 when the Canadiens won it.  I was nine years old at the time and remember watching all of the games against Calgary, cheering for Montreal and being overwhelmed when they won it.” Briere has played 29 career games against the Canadiens (9-9-18), including 14 in Montreal (6-4-10).

Welcome home II: Lac. St. Charles, Quebec native Martin Biron also remembers 1986:  “1986 was a big year for me when the Canadiens won the Cup and Patrick Roy came in and played unbelievable in the playoffs. Being a Canadiens fan and watching the way Patrick stepped up in the playoffs – that was one of my biggest memories of Stanley Cup heroes and seeing a player really stepping up and making a difference.”

Biron
More Biron:  “Growing up in the province of Quebec, we all knew that the Montreal Canadiens had won so many Cups.  Patrick Roy was one of the guys I looked up to – when he won his first Cup in 1986, being a young kid coming in and playing so well in the Final.  Even before that, it always went back to goalies – Ken Dryden, all of the things I heard about him coming in and winning the Cup in his first year and then winning the Calder Trophy the next year – it was an amazing feat."  Biron has played 21 games against the Canadiens (12-7-0, 2.19 GAA, .924 SV%, 2 shutouts), including 13 games in Montreal (7-4-0, 2.49 GAA, .913 SV%, 1 Shutout).

Biron III:  Biron on his first-ever Stanley Cup overtime game (a 4-3 victory in Game 5 against Boston): “It’s like that [tension] the whole game.  In overtime it is just amplified by 10. You do not want to make any mistakes, especially as a goalie because one mistake could mean the game.  It was my first time playing in an overtime game in the playoffs and it was fun. The pace of the game is so high and stakes of the game are so high. It just felt like it flew by.”

Welcome to Stanley in Philly
:  Six members of the Flyers – goaltender Martin Biron, defenseman Braydon Coburn and forwards Riley Cote, Lasse Kukkonen, Ryan Parent, Patrick Thoresen made their NHL playoffs debuts on April 11. That contest also marked the first playoff game as Flyers for Daniel Briere, Jim Dowd, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, Jaroslav Modry, Jason Smith, Kimmo Timonen and Scottie Upshall.

Quite a debut: Flyers captain Mike Richards is one of only two players in NHL history to record his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal on a penalty shot (Wayne Connolly, Minnesota in 1968).
   
Experience matters:  The Flyers have three players who have won Stanley Cups:  Jim Dowd (with New Jersey in 1995), Derian Hatcher (with Dallas in 1999) and Mike Knuble (with Detroit in 1998).  The 39-year old Dowd is the fourth-oldest player still competing in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs behind Detroit’s Chris Chelios (46) and Dominik Hasek (43) and Pittsburgh’s Gary Roberts (41).  Dowd:  “I was fortunate to come up with New Jersey with guys like (John) MacLean, (Ken) Daneyko and [Claude] Lemieux.  When you lost, there weren’t smiles until you won again. It carried through to the playoffs. When the playoffs rolled around, it was the way they went about their business. It was, ‘Hey, this is it. There is no tomorrow,’ even if we were up 3-0. That was their thing.”

Richards
Special teams in post-season: The Flyers ranked second to Montreal in power-play goals (84) and percentage (21.8%) in the regular season and went 8 for 36 (22.2%) in their opening-series win over Washington.  The power-play was just 3-22 (13.6%) in the first four games, which prompted Flyers captain Mike Richards to comment at the time: “Special teams are such a big factor, and our power play was so good throughout the year.  It won us hockey games. I don’t know if we’re struggling or maybe trying to be too fancy. We’re not getting pucks [to the net].  My shots are hitting shin pads and not getting through when they should be. Hopefully, it will come and maybe we’ll work more on it.”  It did come -- the power-play went 5-14 (36%) in the final three games.

Knuble’s frustration:  Mike Knuble, who played all 82 games this season, missed the final two games of the series against Washington after suffering a hamstring injury in Game 5:  “I just saw the replay for the first time [yesterday], extremely ungraceful.  You go down to block a shot and change your mind and get caught up in the ice. It never happened to me before. It’s one of those fluky things, but it’s an awful time to have it happen . . . It’s extremely disappointing, given the outcome of the game and not having a chance to play and try and clinch the series at home. I take pride in being a player that’s in the lineup a lot. I play every game in the regular season and it’s something I think is an asset of mine, durability, and to have something like this take you out when you basically did it to yourself is the most frustrating part."
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