GAME PREVIEW: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 2 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers will look to take advantage of opening their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Montreal Canadiens on home ice and take a 2-0 series lead Tuesday night in South Philadelphia.

The Flyers shocked the Canadiens, and perhaps even themselves with the display of utter domination the team showed in their Game One pounding of Montreal by a score of 6-0.  Of course, the old saying in the playoffs is that one game’s momentum never carries over to the next, but don’t tell the Flyers that.  They’ve now won five straight playoff games since they fell behind the Boston Bruins 0-3 in the last round, and have been winning in dominant fashion, capped off by their series-opening victory Sunday night.

The Story: Tonight, it’s pretty fair to say there will be a different type of game played on the ice.  Actually, let’s put it this way: if the Canadiens want to have any hope in this series, they’ll bring their best effort tonight in Philadelphia.  Jaroslav Halak, the juggernaut of a goaltender for Montreal who was pulled after giving up four goals on just fourteen shots in Game One, will have a chance to redeem himself tonight.  Halak is 7-1-1 in his career after being pulled from a game, including playoffs, and in this year’s postseason he is a perfect 2-0 after getting yanked in one game of each of the previous two rounds.  It’s a safe bet that Halak will be dialed in enough to give Montreal a chance for a split in Philadelphia so the Habs can take over the home ice advantage as the series shifts north of the border Thursday.  Come game time tonight, a split will be all that’s on the mind of Montreal.  They haven’t done anything less in their previous two series, and there’s no reason for them to think they can’t pull it off again now.

Who to Watch on the Canadiens: Mike Cammalleri, Right Wing.

It'll be up to Cammalleri to answer the bell in Game Two

Lost in the Game One flop by the Canadiens was the disappearing act of the team’s most prolific scorer in these playoffs: Mike Cammalleri.  Cammalleri, who leads all scorers in these playoffs with 12 goals to his name, failed to register a shot on goal in the first game and seemed reluctant to make plays that would involve any physical contact.  Obviously, the Flyers play a much more physical and defensive style than both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins – Montreal’s two previous opponents.  Still, however, it’s hard for me to believe that Cammalleri is going to back down from the physical play and put his team’s chances of victory in jeopardy by doing so at this crucial juncture of the season.  Cammalleri feeds off finding even the tiniest open areas of ice in the offensive zone and being able to unload a shot to beat an opposing goaltender.  The Flyers did a great job of keeping him to the outside whenever he was in the zone in Game One, and will look to do the same in the second game, as well as each game moving forward.  It’s now up to Cammalleri to prove that he can adapt, adjust, and make things happen offensively for Montreal.  He’ll get a chance to show he’s ready to do that tonight.

The Skinny: The Flyers’ 6-0 victory in Game One was their highest margin of victory in a playoff contest since they knocked off the Minnesota North Stars 7-0 in the 1980 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Certainly, it’s likely that is the last lopsided score we may see in the Flyers’ favor this series, but hopefully they can keep up the same intensity.  The Canadiens, as I mentioned earlier, have made a living out of taking away home ice from their favored opponents in series past, and then taking advantage of the games played in front of their raucous fans in Montreal to put them in position to stay alive.  It would seriously behoove the Flyers to just take it to Montreal again tomorrow night and have that 2-0 advantage before they head up North.

Notes: Michael Leighton will look to expound off his first career playoff shutout tonight and he will be opposed by Jaro Halak, who is looking to bounce back from a porous Game One showing.  A Canadiens win tonight automatically guarantees a Game Five in Philadelphia, but a Flyers win puts the Orange and Black in position to take a stranglehold over the Habs on the road in Montreal.

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