The Eastern Conference Semifinals begin tonight as the Flyers travel to Montreal (say it in a fake French accent...it's a good time).
It's a tough turn around for the Flyers since they played back to back nights on Monday and Tuesday. It's a little surprising that the NHL is making them play three games in four nights, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and play.
The Habs dominated the Flyers during the regular season. They outscored Philly 15-6 and won all four games. That reason alone makes me want to pick against the Flyers, but the series will be closer.
The Flyers are playing much better and after watching Montreal struggle a little bit against Boston, I do think they are beatable. The Flyguys should be able to take a few games, but if Philadelphia is going to win this series its going to be in at least six games, probably the full seven.
Montreal is just too strong across the board. They are fast and they can score. The Habs are widely considered one of the fastest teams in the NHL with three lines that can score. They are very reminiscent of the Buffalo and Ottawa teams the first two years after the lockout.
The Canadiens were second in the league in scoring at 3.09 per game. Defensively, the Habs were middle of the pack at surrendered 2.59 goals a game.
Carey Price has stepped up in goal after the Habs traded away the last goalie the Flyers faced. Montreal shipped off Cristobal Huet in late February for a second round pick in the 2009 draft.
This series will feature the two best powerplays from the regular season. The Canadiens cashed in on almost a quarter of their man up opportunities while the Flyers score on just over a fifth of their powerplays.
Penalties could be the major turning point of every game in this series. The team that can control the puck usually draws penalties. Which ever team can do this, will be able to turn games around with their powerplay.
Montreal doesn't kill penalties well; they are in the bottom of half of the league at 82%. The Flyers are just over a percent better at 83%, but that's good for 10th in the league.
Overall, Montreal is going to try to wear the Flyers down with their depth. The Flyers defensively don't have three lines that can match up well against the Canadiens. Philadelphia will probably come out Game One a little slow due to playing three games in four days.
CuseAdelphia Prediction: Canadiens 4 Flyers 2. Philadelphia just doesn't have the talent to match up well in this series. That's going to be evident in the very first game. Montreal rolls to a Game One victory.