Broken strap on Josh Gorges foot guard contributes to Flyers first goal in Game Four
Nearly 15 to 20 seconds prior to the opening goal by Claude Giroux in the ever important fourth game of the Montreal Canadiens Conference Finals series with the Philadelphia Flyers, the strap on Josh Gorges foot guard broke. As a result, when Giroux came into the Canadiens zone Gorges stepped on the strap and was unable to get into position against Giroux looking flat footed.
These foot guards are plastic sleeves that go over the front of a players' skates. They have been a revelation and saved many injuries for shot blocking defenseman.
Gorges was not the only player to have issues with these guards on Saturday afternoon. Rookie defender PK Subban as had the strap on his foot guards break during the games.
These incidents have Josh Gorges contemplating not wearing the guards for the crucial Game Five tilt with the Flyers. "I've thought about it all night, I've thought about it today, and I don't know. There are so many pluses to it. You look at them and mine are scratched up and marked up, it shows how many times you get hit in the foot. So it has a benefit, but it's too crucial if something like that happens again."
You would have to believe that it is top priority for the Canadiens' trainers to find a solution to this problem.
Mystery substance leads to Flyers needing increased skate sharpening during Game Four
A sand-like substance, hard enough to cause damage to the Flyers skate blades, was on the rubber mats leading out of the Flyers locker room at the Bell Centre prior to the beginning of Game Four.
Key players such as defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Claude Giroux were forced to miss some shifts during the game due to their skates requiring sharpening.
Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette would only say that the Flyers had "skate issues" and would not elaborate further.
However Captain Mike Richards did inform that Flyers Equipment Manager Harry Brickler advised him that the substance was larger than sand pellets.
Coincidence, or gamesmanship by the Canadiens franchise or an outside force? You be the judge.
Montreal Canadiens keys to winning Game Five and extending the series
They must show the compete level and use their team speed as they did in Game Three. In Game Four they simply did not compete at the same level as the Flyers where, the Flyers seemed to want the win much more.
PK Subban has been an effective offensive player thus far in these playoffs, but his age and inexperience has started to show. Subban will need to learn quickly that most times the simple play of dumping the puck deep into the Flyers zone is the most effective. Trying to make plays at the Flyers blueline has been a disaster for the Canadiens at times, leading to scoring chances on Jaroslav Halak.
Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Thomas Plekanec all need to show up on the score sheet after tonight's game. All three are top six forwards and they have not scored in 10 plus games. Michael Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, and Jaroslav Halak can only carry this team so far. It is time for the other "big guns" on the Canadiens to step up.
Energy forward Tom Pyatt was a key player in the Canadiens Game Three victory. His grit and determination will be sorely needed in Game Five. However it is questionable whether he will be in the lineup as he is listed day-to-day with an upper body injury.
My prediction for the outcome of Game Five
The Canadiens will come with a higher compete level tonight and the game most definitely will not be a blow out. However, I believe the Flyers have too much depth at forward for the Canadiens to handle, especially with Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere back in the lineup.
Aside from Game Three the Flyers have largely controlled this series. A telling stat is that they have not allowed a goal in nine of 12 periods during this series. Michael Leighton has been good, but his teammates are doing of a great job of mostly allowing the Canadiens to only get to areas where they can take low percentage shots.
Look for captain Mike Richards and assistant Chris Pronger to have solid games for the Flyers. Their will, determination, and professionalism will be key to the Flyers closing this series out in five games.
For the Canadiens to win Halak will need to let in no more than one goal. But expect the Flyers to take the win in Game Five by a three goal margin, with one being an empty netter.
Player quotes courtesy of Sportsnet.ca