Cream of the Crop
Philadelphia’s come out on top tonight over the Montreal Canadiens, ending the Habs incredible playoffs run. It was an incredible, unpredictable roller coaster ride of a series between the 7th and 8th seeds. Nobody expected either one of them to get there in the first place; nobody expected the incredible success that they had on the way, beating out some serious contenders ahead of them. And who could have predicted this kind of ending?
Games 1, 2 , 4 and 5 were owned by Philadelphia in this series. Game 3 was a strange anomaly where the Habs finally had their game together. Both teams have a fairly scrappy game style, so it’s a surprise to see such dominance on the side of the Philly team.
But Philadelphia played their game and they dictated the pace of this series, through and through. They clogged up the neutral zone, forced the play to come in off the point or the sides where the Habs lost just about every puck battle on a tough forecheck. Philadelphia dominated, whether they were on the offensive or the defensive, keeping tabs on every player on the ice and not backing down. Montreal couldn’t move two feet without encountering an orange jersey. This was a hungry team that wanted it very badly and they played like it. This is a team that deserved to win this series.
Soyez fiers, Montreal
Don’t hang your head, Habs nation. Montreal earned every win they got to get to this series and there’s a lot to feel really proud about. Yes, it does come down often to one cruel game to tear apart a playoffs run, but that’s how the playoffs are.
Cammaleri went from smoking hot to ice cold in this series, gaining a point per game against Washington and Pittsburgh, but not capitalizing off the Flyers. Gionta and Gomez had long scoring droughts too, which they ended in the last couple of games, but it was too little, too late.
Philadelphia outplayed the Habs in the end. That doesn’t mean that this Montreal team was lazy, too small, or played bad hockey. Philadelphia was more strategic and their strategy won. This isn’t something to be ashamed about and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. A wise saying to keep in mind about the Habs playoffs run: don’t be sad that it’s over, just be happy that it happened.
Did you ever have that one item that you bought for a really good price, possibly that end of season off the rack clearance item that looks more expensive than it really is, gets a lot of compliments and just lasts and lasts? That’s what you call the bargain deal of the century, that thing you buy for one price and that gives you so much more in return.
Michael Leighton may be the best hidden treasure purchase that any franchise has ever made. Bought off waivers for $11,250, Michael Leighton has delivered 2 shut out wins against Montreal and has punched the Flyers ticket to the Stanley Cup FINAL.
Michael Leighton didn’t have to do surreal things for the Flyers to win, but he did come up big for them when he needed to. He knows how to track, he knows how to be big, and he doesn’t panic when there’s a lot of traffic in front of him. That’s pretty much all he has to do to bring this team to the promised land.
Jaroslav Halak is by far the better goalie of the two of them, but the real difference has to be the support. Halak can stand on his head and maybe even score a goal when he wants to, but if the team doesn’t give him the defensive shield or the offensive support, well, that’s that. Leighton was given the kind of defensive bubble that most goaltenders can only dream about. Every man in front gets involved. They throw vanity and care to the wind and would sacrifice body, teeth, whatever to stop the shot. Look at scary Laperriere in a full plastic cage visor. He got that from blocking a shot back in the New Jersey series and he’s still back for more, blocking everything he sees. A defensive core like that is like wearing armour for a goaltender.
The Traffic Report
Philadelphia is big and plays tough, but their greatest game play is the way that they jam the entire rink. They create traffic jams all over the neutral zone and are pretty much like pylons that you can’t move around. They are always in your face or on your body. And once they push you to the boards, you have to be ready to fight them to the finish, because they will be ready.
When this game is called, it will be a traffic report with jams happening everywhere on the freeway. There will be crashes, stalls, and lots of bumps along the way. And maybe a bit of roadkill?
Can the Philadelphia Flyers, the latest and greatest team of destiny in this playoffs, match up against the young, quick, talented Chicago Blackhawks team? It may be a question of skill, speed and compete level, but it will also be a little question of luck. Philadelphia, following in the tradition of the Pittsburgh Penguins, happily grabbed their Conference trophy for a post-game locker room celebration. Chicago, following in the tradition of most Western Conference teams, avoided making eye contact with their Conference trophy altogether. Is someone feeling a little superstitious? Let’s just wait and see who lady luck has her eye on when the puck drops for the Stanley Cup FINAL.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.