Flyers-Canadiens Game Five: Philly Looks To End Series in Montreal
It's been that kind of series for the Canadiens.
Montreal has thrown everything at the Flyers, including the kitchen sink, and they continue to come up short. Outshot 72-40 during the two games at home this series, the Flyers have somehow found a way to hang on despite 3rd period collapses to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference. This has left Canadiens players and fans alike scratching their heads wondering, "What will it take?"
Apparently it has left Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau wondering the same thing. Pulled after the 2nd period in Game 3, goaltender Carey Price also sat out Game 4 and watched Jaroslav Halak meet the same fate Price had in games 2 and 3. For Game 5, Carey Price will once again be in net. With a few extra days to rest and clear his head after a dismal Game 3, Carbonneau hopes to catch lightning in a bottle and see the Carey Price that shut down the Bruins in Game 7 of their quarterfinals series 5-0.
With a chance to close out the series tonight, the Flyers fully intend on making the best of their opportunity tonight rather than repeating Game 5 of the Washington series. Flyers center Danny Briere has even said that this game must be approached as if it were Game 7. This opportunistic Flyers team has been at its best with its collective back against the wall. Faced with the prospect of missing the playoffs altogether during the final games of the regular season, the Flyers played quite possibly their best hockey of the year and won their final two games via two Martin Biron shutouts, not only averting a second consecutive year spending April at the golf course, but leapfrogging Boston and Ottawa to finish the season with the #6 seed. Then, during the overtime of Game 7 against Washington, Joffrey Lupul put the series-winning goal past former Habs goalie Cristobal Huet, sending the Flyers on to the next round.
And now, how far this team has come from its mid-season 10 game losing streak collapse. Up 3-1 in a series most expected Montreal to easily take in 5 games, the Flyers hope they have learned from their mistakes during the previous series. Martin Biron, a childhood Nordiques fan who hated the Habs as much as an Eagles fan hates the Cowboys, would love to send this team home packing in their own arena. As would Danny Briere, who has been booed mercilessly the entire series by Canadiens fans and expects to again tonight after spurning them in the offseason by taking less money than was offered by the Habs to get the chance to play hockey in Philly with his friends Martin Biron and now-Phantoms defenseman Denis Gauthier.
The Flyers are well aware that Game 5 will be a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging game for them. This is not a Canadiens team that feels defeated. They continue to be very optimistic due to the large difference in shots between the two. The Habs are hoping that Martin Biron comes back from his three game break looking less like the goalie he has been this entire series and more like...well...Carey Price has this series. With one Vezina candidate already sent packing (Martin Brodeur) and the other two on the verge of the same fate (Evgeni Nabokov and Henrik Lundqvist), Martin Biron has been playing the part of Georges Vezina himself for the Flyers, shutting down everything the Habs have thrown at him and willing his team on to victory.
Tonight, back in Montreal, the Flyers will be looking to finish the series so they can rest up and prepare for the Penguins or the Rangers while the Habs, standing on their last leg, will look to extend their season for at least one more game. They hope that something will finally go right for them, as almost nothing has since Game 1. Maybe, just maybe, one of the many shots they take will be the one to send this series to Game 6, because when you take as many shots as they do, something has got to go right for you eventually, right?
Yes, it's just been that kind of series for the Canadiens.
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