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Flyers-Canadiens Game 2: The Intermission Blog

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Third Period.  Flyers 4 – Canadiens 2.  Flyers goal from Umberger.  Canadiens from Markov.

– Flyers survived the third period.  The Canadiens and their fans gleaned momentum from the early Markov goal and pushed through to the very end.  Their forecheck hemmed in the Flyers for much of the period.  But the Flyers improved the success rate on clearing attempts, and that made the idfference.

– Lucky bounces continue for the Flyers.  Habs fans might say it’s more that HIggins is snake-bitten.  Either way, Higgins ricocheted one off the inside of the post, and it did not cross the goal line.

– I was worried that the Flyers looked composed but not urgent as the third period drew to a close.  Then Umberger jumps on a puck drifting through the neutral zone, carries it towards Price, and takes the shot.  The rebound pops to a waiting Flyer, who shoots.  Meanwhile, Umberger stays at the net, swats at the airborne puck, and backhands the rebound off Price for a goal.  I haven’t seen much of this play from Umberger since his return from the knee injury sustained in Pittsburgh, but it was these little moves that made him incredibly valuable at mid-season.

The Flyers split the series – exactly what you want to do on the road.  Now it’s time to dish out some vengeance on Wachovia Center ice.

Second Period.  Flyers 3 – Canadiens 1.  Flyers goal from Briere.

– MAR-TY!  MAR-TY!  MAR-TY!  HUGE glove save on Plekanec breakaway.  HUGE saves on a late penalty kill.  SILENCING the mocking chant of the Bell Centre crowd.  If you’re not watching this game, Biron is the reason the Flyers are currently in the lead.  In the dry wit of Kimmo Timonen – “he made a few nice saves there at the end of the period.”

– The Habs did a good job through the first half defensively on the Flyers.  They clogged the neutral zone, allowing them to block the east-west passes and long outlets favored by the Flyer defensemen.  They used turnovers around the two bluelines to stretch the ice, separating Flyer forwards from their D. 

– Hartnell took a penalty late in the second in the process of defending Marty Biron from Kostopoulos.  The intentions were good, but the Flyers forwards need to be careful.  There is a fine line between defensive pushing and overdoing it.  A subtle move is sometimes more than enough to convey the message, and it won’t cost you a shorthanded situation.  Fortunately, Biron saved his team.

– The Flyers are still struggling to clear pucks.  So far, Biron has covered every mistake.  But a desperate team (like the Habs will be in the third) could very well burn them on such failures.  See Game 1 for an example.

Goals for the 3rd: Maintain the intensity.  Don’t change now.

First Period.  Flyers 2 – Canadiens 1.  Flyers goals from Umberger and Carter (PP).  Habs from Koivu (PP).

– Marty Biron is on his game.  He’s stick handling, preventing rebounds, and playing high in the crease.  Only missed the Koivu stuff play because he thought the puck had gone the whole way around the net.  He was also the best Flyer through the first five minutes of the game.

– The Flyer fourth liners are again making a difference.  They established the first forecheck for the Flyers, got the first cycle, and the first goal (forwards Kapanen, Dowd and Umberger).  That’s energy.

– The Habs are skating around the Flyers defensemen – the guys need to keep moving their feet!

– The Habs are also double-teaming Danny Briere.  He’s too small to fend off two guys.  But since he has two, that means someone somewhere is open.  For that line to have some success, he’s got to start finding that guy.

– Mike Richards is leadership.  The Habs got a 5-on-3.  Richards, one of the 3 defenders, breaks his stick, manages to bat the puck out of the air into the corner and then beats the Habs into the corner to keep the puck tied up along the boards.  Huge play.

– Goals for the 2nd: Keep those shots on Carey Price coming.  Keep the feet moving on defense.  No more unnecessary penalties! 

Pregame.  There’s really nothing new to the game plan for the Flyers.  Keep feet moving, strong team defense, establish a good forecheck, great goalkeeping from Marty Biron.  Do all of the above for a full 60 minutes.

Things to consider for this game:

1.  Jeff Carter had a rough night on Thursday.  Will he respond tonight with the authoritative style that has made him successful in these playoffs, or will his confidence crumble?

2.  Mike Richards didn’t like the call at the end of Thursday’s game.  He tends to respond to hardship by coming even stronger the second time.  What will we see from Richards tonight?

3.  Danny Briere looked unsettled when the booing began in Montreal.  He simply wasn’t playing with the sure hand he had in Washington.  Was it just opening night jitters or is this going to be a longterm issue?

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