There are a lot of storylines going into tonight’s Game 7 matchup with the Boston Bruins and Phildelphia Flyers. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=boston+bruins&iid=8774485″ src=”b/2/a/2/Boston_Bruins_v_64f7.jpg?adImageId=12856751&imageId=8774485″ width=”234″ height=”175″ /]
One of the least talked about in the media is what would be the better matchup for the Habs.
Looking at all the factors, I think Montreal should be pulling for Boston. There are numerous reasons for this.
One is the fact that the Habs played a lot better against the Bruins this season. They had a record of 5-1 against Boston, but were only 2-2 against Philly. Plus, the Flyers made the Habs look silly right before the Olympic break, winning a home-and-home series where the Habs were horribly outplayed. They had only 13 shots in a win in December, let in six goals in the second game of said back-to-back, and needed Jaroslav Halak to steal a 1-0 win in April to help the Canadiens make the postseason. That’s not good.
Against the Bruins, it was a different story. Yes, some games were hard-fought, but a few of them were blowouts, including the one in December to celebrate the Habs 100th anniversary.
I understand the Bruins swept the Habs last season, but this is a totally different Habs team than last year. They won’t look lost five minutes into games. They won’t stop playing by the third period. They won’t be counting on young guys to lead the team. Instead, they’ll be playing non-stop, taking advantage of their opportunities, and will rely on guys who have postseason success. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=boston+bruins&iid=8774513″ src=”9/d/d/9/Boston_Bruins_v_044d.jpg?adImageId=12856760&imageId=8774513″ width=”234″ height=”298″ /]
Another factor is what the Flyers have done this series against the Bruins. By coming back from a 3-0 games deficit, the Flyers have need to play perfect hockey, and they have, to even up the series 3-3. If they get a win, they have momentum, but more importantly, they have confidence. Confidence is underrated when it comes to sports athletes, but you only need to look at Patrick Roy. He was confident to the point of being way too cocky, but it worked for him. Michael Jordan in basketball was the same way. You need confidence. Not sure why, but a guy playing with confidence has an extra step in his game, isn’t worried about turnovers, and seems to make the right decisions. A guy with no confidence plays hesitant, and makes more mistakes.
If the Flyers win, the whole team will be confident. But if the Bruins win, they’ll be thinking “wow, we almost blew that.” They’ll be more cautious in the next series, and the Habs can take advantage.
As for the Flyers goaltending, that’s a non-issue. Playoff history is littered with backup goalies who have done great when called into action. Most Habs fans may remember the Cam Ward year. Habs up 2-0 in the series after destroying Martin Gerber the first two games. Ward goes in nets and leads the Carolina Hurricanes to the finals and a Conn Smythe trophy. Two years back, we saw Dominik Hasek get replaced, and Chris Osgood lead the Red Wings to the Cup. Even the Habs history is full of tales like that. Ken Dryden in 1971, for example. And that’s just finalists. They have been plenty of backups who have come in to steal a round or two. So don’t believe for a second that Michael Leighton can’t do it.
The Flyers are also a dirtier team, and I’d be happy if Dan Carcillo stopped playing hockey as soon as possible.
And to put the final nail in the coffin, it would create a great Original 6 and hated rivals matchup if the Habs played the Bruins.
Add it all up, and there’s only one outcome: it would be better if we play Boston.