Let’s start with Montreal. They pack a wallop, rolling out their slippery forwards, big bruising defense, and hulking specimen of a goaltender. On top of that, they provided a solid defense and were patient enough to wait for scoring opportunities and pounce. Their forecheck is phenomenal. Canadiens fans, you have a team worthy of being the 100th anniversary squad.
Back to Philadelphia. The Flyers fought hard the entire night, and I don’t mean fisticuffs. They struggled against the puck throughout the evening. I don’t know whether the ice was bad - several of the good skaters like Braydon Coburn and Simon Gagne were catching edges and looked slower than usual. However, the Canadiens managed to deal with it, which suggests to me that the Flyers need to stop gripping the sticks too tightly and work on their chemistry.
On top of the wildly bouncing puck, the Flyers tried far too many fancy plays. If the puck won’t settle down, you can’t be constantly trying to create the most awesome give-and-go ever. Mike Richards attempted a dipsy-doodle around one of the large Canadiens that failed, and he ended up on his butt watching the first goal of the game go into the net. Pretty plays only matter if they result in goals.
And then we arrive at Martin Biron. It’s quite easy to tell when Biron is playing well - and I’m not referring to score sheets. The stellar Biron, who showed up in the playoffs, squares his shoulders to the shooter, is confident in his crease, and sucks up the rebounds. I once heard Marty himself compare the feeling of playing like that to having a vacuum in the crest of his jersey.
When he’s not playing good hockey, well, you get last night. Rebounds careened off Biron like pinballs at the arcade. That’s extremely difficult to defend against, and it proved the difference-maker in that game. At the opposite end of the ice, Carey Price stifled the Flyers’ forwards by controlling the puck, never giving rebounds as the Orange and Black came crashing towards him.
The Flyers’ first road trip of the season begins tonight in Pittsburgh. It’s a chance to start anew.