Canadiens-Flyers: Can Montreal Rebound in Game 2 Against Philadelphia?

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent IMay 18, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 16:  Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We've seen this movie before, no? The one where the Montreal Canadiens come out flat and lose a game, only to rebound triumphantly in the following match.

That's the way the story goes, or at least the way it has gone thus far in the 2010 NHL playoffs for teams.

So why is it then, that the majority of Habs Nation is feeling less confident than at any other point during the playoffs so far?

I mean, the Canadiens were down 3-1 in their first round match-up against the Washington Capitals. Shouldn't that have been more daunting task?

Perhaps it was.

I think what is bothering Habs fans this morning, has more to do with the Canadiens current opponents, than what the Habs themselves are capable of doing.

While both Washington and Pittsburgh presented formidable opposition for the Canadiens, they are both teams whose play is based largely on skill.

Now, both teams also bring a physical edge to their games, but their force majeure is skill and not force.

The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, while extremely deep with talent, have a boatload of size, grit, belligerence, and scoring on all four lines.

That is something that the Habs have not yet had to contend with.

As evidenced throughout the regular season, the speedy and skilled Habs tend to play better against teams who employ skill first, rather than force.

The Flyers, to their credit, bring both to the table, and the smaller Habs forwards had a lot of trouble contending with it in Game One.

Now, we must keep in mind that while the Flyers played a good game on Sunday, the Canadiens simply did not show up. So there is a lot of room for improvement.

I believe that the Habs will bring a much better game tonight, and will make a much better effort to get to the net, screen goalie Michael Leighton, and try to get secondary scoring chances.

The problem, again, is that given the sheer size of the Flyers' players, this will be no easy task for the vertically challenged Habs.

While no one really wants to talk about it, there is a sense that the Flyers might bring a game to the table that the Habs cannot counter, despite their success at making between game adjustments so far.

I am sure that Montreal coach Jacques Martin will want his players to dump the puck more, and create foot races that he knows his nimble forwards can win. And, if they can move their feet enough, maybe they can even get the Flyers to take some penalties.

Who knows?

Tonight is Game Two of the series, and while they say that you're never in trouble in the playoffs until you lose a game at home, I believe that the Canadiens' performance tonight will go a long way in dictating how this series plays out.

If the Canadiens can get to the net, use their speed to their advantage, and fight through the larger Flyers to win the game, I think this series will go a long way—s ix or seven games, with the Habs having a legitimate chance at winning.

If, however, the Flyers crush the Canadiens again tonight, I think this series might be over in a hurry. Say, five games, with the Habs grabbing at least one at home.

So all of the, "We didn't bring out 'A' game," and, "Our level of compete wasn't where it should be," and, "They wanted it more than us" in the world just amounts to a lot of,  "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," right now.

Make no mistake about it, the Canadiens have an enormous task in front of them tonight, and I believe that their performance will dictate their playoff fate.

What do you think? Can they pull it off? Are the Flyers too much for the Habs? Is this series going to go long? Or short?

Follow Kamal on Facebook , Twitter , HabsAddict.com , HockeyBuzz.com , and Habs News Links.

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