Montreal is 5-0 in elimination games this season, but now the Canadiens must find a way to win three-straight knockout games if they hope to keep their Cinderella season alive. To do so, they will have to find a way to generate a more sustained effort. Montreal has been held without a goal in 9 of the 12 periods in this series.
After terrorizing the Washington Capitals
and Pittsburgh Penguins
in the first two rounds, Montreal’s leading goal scorers, Michael Cammalleri
and Brian Gionta
, have been held in check in this series. Yes, they both scored in Game 3, but they combined for just 3 shots in Game 4 and were never really dangerous.
Mr. Zero: Michael Leighton
has recorded three shutouts this round, the first goalie in Flyers history to accomplish that feat in one playoff round. Other than a hiccup in Game 3, Leighton has been impenetrable. If he can somehow fashion another shutout in Game 5, he would tie the franchise record for shutouts in one playoff season, held by the legendary Bernie Parent
. Amazingly, Leighton has his three shutouts in just six starts.
Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger
was bad in Game 3, making two very costly turnovers in the first period that led directly to goals by Montreal. He was on the ice for Montreal's first four goals in that game and finished a minus-3. Before the questions about Pronger's game could even gain traction, the vet answered with a performance for the ages in Game 4. He played a little more than 31 minutes and set up Philadelphia's second goal with a gorgeous two-line pass to Ville Leino
. "There weren't enough minutes in the game for him," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
said. "He wanted to play the whole game." If Pronger has another showing like that, Montreal will be hard-pressed to generate offense
Drawing a picture:
Philadelphia totally dominated in the faceoff circle in Game 4, winning 68 percent of the draws in the game. That dominance explained, in part, why Montreal had so much trouble generating offense. If you don't have possession of the puck -- which is most easily gained through a faceoff win -- you can't generate offensive chances. In Game 4, Claude Giroux
went 11-for-16 and Danny Briere
won all five draws he contested. Of the five Flyers that took more than four draws, none finished with lower than a 61-percent success rate. Montreal's top-two centers -- Tomas Plekanec
and Scott Gomez
-- won just 10 of 28 draws in Game 4.