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Flyers-Canadiens Game 5: Preview

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I won’t relaunch the whole shots-on-goal differential discussion that has dominated the press coverage on the Habs-Flyers series.

I will say that each day the Flyers’ increase their resemblance to the team that started the season 7-1 and went unbeaten at home for 8 games.  Remember how the defense pushed everything out towards the boards, forcing the opposition to work a perimeter game?  Remember how the defense then blocked the lanes and shots?  Remember how the chemistry between Danny Briere and his linemates developed into goal-scoring prowess?  Remember how well Martin Biron started the year, even posting back-to-back shutouts? 

Sounds pretty similar to me . . .

I also won’t talk too much about the Flyers’ capacity to crumble with a 2-0 lead.  I will say that a week ago, the Flyers did not have the confidence to continue pursuing and attacking the puck, particularly when the pressure came in the third.  But much has changed since Game 1 of this series.  Confidence, inspired by Biron’s play in net and the win-loss record, permeates the Flyers.  You can see it clearly in RJ Umberger, but there’s also that swagger in the strides of Upshall, Carter, and Hartnell.  Not to mention the intensity brought by the fourth liners: Dowd, Kapanen, and Thoresen. 

Game 5 is going to be tough.  The Canadiens are a fierce opponent with a dynamic home crowd.  It’s a litmus test for the Flyers: do they know how to win when they’re not up against the wall? 

I believe they do.

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