Unable to deal with Philadelphia's net presence in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Montreal Canadiens
appear ready to go to Plan B in Game 3 Thursday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
Although Montreal coach Jacques Martin said it would be a game-time decision, defenseman Ryan O'Byrne
said he would be in the lineup for Game 3.
There also is a possibility Benoit Pouliot
, scratched in favor of Sergei Kostitsyn
in Game 2, could return to the lineup Thursday.
At 6-foot-5 and 234 pounds, O'Byrne is the type of big body that can keep Philadelphia's crease-crashing forwards away from goalie Jaroslav Halak
, something that was missing in the first two games in Philadelphia -- particularly in the 6-0 loss in Game 1.
"I think I can add a lot to this series and I'm going take advantage of this opportunity and run with it."
-- Ryan O'Byrne
"I think I can add a lot to this series and I'm going take advantage of this opportunity and run with it," said O'Byrne, who has been scratched for the past three games -- basically since Jaroslav Spacek
returned to health late in Eastern Conference Semifinals.
What is it exactly that O'Byrne believes he can add to a Montreal team that is desperate for a win to make this best-of-seven series interesting?
"Not go out there and try to do anything special, but do what I did in the series against Washington when I sat out the first few games -- come in, play hard and make it tough on the opposing forwards," O'Byrne said.
Despite playing six fewer playoff games than the mainstays on the team, O'Byrne sits third among the Canadiens in postseason hits with 29 in 10 games, trailing only forwards Maxim Lapierre
and Travis Moen
And he says that physical presence -- especially against Philadelphia's cadre of power forwards -- will be his impact on Thursday's game. And he plans to start the physical attack early.
"You have to go out there and try to get a hit or get hit right away," O'Byrne said.
With the addition, Montreal will have a different look in Game 3, which may not be a bad thing considering they were out-scored 9-0 in the first two losses.
Most likely, the team will go with seven defensemen, spotting the undersized Marc-Andre Bergeron
as a forward and at the point on the power play and working O'Byrne into the defensive rotation.
Where in that rotation he fits, however, remains unclear.
"I got nothing for you," O'Byrne said. "Your guess is as good as mine."
If Hal Gill
and Josh Gorges
stay together -- which is likely -- O'Byrne most likely will play with either Spacek or Roman Hamrlik
How does a seven-defenseman setup affect the blueliners involved?
"For some guys, I think you play a more defined role," said Gorges. "When you go with seven, the ice time might get split around a little more where Bergy's going to play more predominately in an offensive role -- the power play and get him jumping up, especially late in periods if we are down or whatever the situation may be.
"We use guys like me and Hal a little bit more on the defensive end. Especially on home ice when you have the last change, you can focus more on different defined roles."
With the luxury of the last change, Martin can match his defensive pairings more effectively against Philadelphia's top lines. There was some speculation that he may try to get Gill and Gorges out against the Danny Briere
line after Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
dictated that pair play against the Mike Richards
line in the first two games.
Thursday morning, however, Martin said he had no issues with the matchups in the first two games.
Ironically, the seven-defensemen look also will change the look of the Canadiens on offense
"Maybe we roll three rounds more when we do that," top-line center Michael Cammalleri
said. "So that might be the dynamic there."
If Montreal goes with just three lines for the majority of the game, it means its top guns -- Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec
, Brian Gionta
and Andrei Kostitsyn
-- will see additional minutes as the Canadiens search for a way to solve Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton
, who has stopped all 58 shots he has faced in this round.