The Key to Habs Round 2 Success: Kostopoulos, Begin and Smolinski

Kevin van SteendelaarAnalyst IApril 25, 2008

Rule of thumb when playing the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs: The little guys are just as deadly as the big name players.

Though overshadowed by Patrick Roy’s performance in 1993’s Stanley Cup championship, names like Paul Dipietro and Gilbert Dionne were quickly becoming household names through the playoffs alongside their better known teammates.

Moving ahead 15 years, and it’s a new group of names that are working ‘behind the scenes’so to speak in the Habs quest for cup number 25.

Even going into their round two series against the Philadelphia Flyers, many analysts agreed that the Canadiens had a great advantage over their opponents in their third and fourth lines.

Game one showed that with the likes of Bryan Smolinski, Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos, who averaged a solid fifteen minutes together and capped a strong night with Kostopoulos scoring the overtime winner Thursday night.

While the well noted skill players like Alex Kovalev or Saku Koivu will get the majority of the attention by the top defenders on the Flyers, it gives ample opportunity for lines like this to wear down the remaining Flyer defenses.

Smolinski is a 1000 plus game veteran and while time is catching up with him, he has had some great moments in this year’s campaign. Begin has always been a fearless shot blocker and solid hitter and Kostopoulos has shown the grit, fantastic short handed playing ability and a willingness to compete that clearly came to Canadiens GM Bob Gainey’s attention when he signed him in the off season.

Looking ahead these three guys could make the remainder of  this series very difficult for the Flyers and opponents in future rounds.