Supported by the superb goaltending of third stringer Michael Leighton, the Philadelphia Flyers have opened a commanding lead over the Montreal Canadiens in their Eastern Conference Finals matchup. Leighton has recorded two consecutive shutouts in leading the way for Philly, while Montreal is suddenly unable to score a goal to save their life!
With a 6-0 victory on Sunday night and a 3-0 nothing victory Tuesday night, the Flyers now are in the driver’s seat heading into the Bell Centre for Thursday’s game. Leighton has been nothing short of amazing, and last night made 30 saves, many of which were clutch, and or would be game changers. Combined with his 28 save outing Sunday, Leighton has stopped all 58 shots thrown his way and is the first Flyer goalie to pitch two consecutive shutouts in the playoffs since Bernie Parent did in the 70′s.
Leighton who is a 28 year old journeyman goaltender has won all four of his playoff starts while the Flyer’s have constructed a six game winning streak to get where they are today. However he’s not the only star as Philadelphia possesses some french flair of their own.
Danny Briere scored his ninth goal of the playoffs in the first period and Simon Gagne added one himself in the second to give him five so far after returning from an injury. Ville Leino added a goal in the third and is making the Red Wings sorry for letting him go at the trade deadline this past season. Or at least making them think twice. Philly was two for four on the power play while Montreal was 0 for 4. Montreal is now scoreless in eight powerplay chances after being second best in the regular season.
The Flyers are 16-0 when leading a playoff series 2-0.
Jaroslav Halak the goaltending star of the playoffs till now looked completely out of sorts on at least two of the goals. Out of position on one, and waving his glove hand on another. He’s now 7-2-1 in games after he’s been pulled. Is there a decision to make for Thursday night’s game in goal? Does Jacques Martin go to Carey Price? It’s certainly a topic of conversation and something that has to be considered. Goaltending in the playoffs always gets Martin in trouble as his days in Ottawa were affected by the likes of Patrick Lalime. Although not all his fault, the backstop is the easiest place to place blame. This could be have the same result if things don’t change.
Then of course there’s also the Ex-Panther Factor to consider. The Canadiens have two players, Jaroslav Spacek and Dominic Moore on the roster to go along with assistant coach Kirk Muller and head coach Jacques Martin. The Flyers have only Lucas Krajicek and they have wisely limited his ice time to an average of 10 minutes per night.
I will say that the Flyers have looked as though they want it more, even from game one. They have pressed the issue. They have pressured Montreal’s defence and are forcing the play. While Montreal is fast and skilled, they have looked like a different team in this series almost to the point of being slow. Or at least slower than the Flyers.
For the first two series Montreal’s size of lack of wasn’t an issue. Now in this series it’s beginning to look like they may be too small. Not built for the physicality of the playoffs
What’s the old saying, you’re never in trouble till you lose at home? Well Montreal’s certainly on the brink of trouble and if they drop game three Thursday night, you might as well start spelling it
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