Archive for Montreal Canadiens

Updates: Flyers to Make Offer to Ellis Today

Posted in Flyer Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

Could Ellis be in Orange and Black by days end?

According to this tweet from Tim Panaccio and this subsequent article the Philadelphia Flyers will be making an offer to free agent goaltender Dan Ellis later this afternoon.  Ellis fell out of favor in Nashville as the Predators elected to go with Pekka Rinne in between the pipes, and just last week traded Ellis’ rights to the Montreal Canadiens.  Ellis and the Habs haven’t come to terms yet and all signs point to Ellis joining the free agent market at noon eastern time today.

The Flyers re-signed Michael Leighton yesterday to a two year deal, but Paul Holmgren said that would not end their goalie search in free agency.  Having Ellis and Leighton as a duo could potentially work out well as both have a lot to prove heading into this season.  Stay tuned to my Twitter for updates

Game Recap: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 5 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Posted in Game Summaries with tags , on May 25, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Philadelphia Flyers are the 2010 Eastern Conference Champions!

I could write that four million times, and the phrase would honestly never get old.  I was fortunate enough to be at the game last night and let me tell you: what a spectacle, what an adrenaline rush, what a game, and, most importantly, WHAT. A. TEAM.

The Flyers celebrate after the final buzzer

The game didn’t start as it many probably would’ve liked: the Canadiens controlled play early on, and struck first blood on one of the rare shots these playoffs that Michael Leighton should’ve had, yet let slip by him.  Brian Gionta did the trick, scoring only his second goal of the series just a minute into the game, as Scott Gomez fed him a beautiful pass in the slot, and Gionta buried a snapper through Leighton’s five-hole.  The stands started to have an eerie feeling flow throw them: could the Habs pull off the unthinkable, again?  This time to the Flyers?  Thankfully, the man that wears the ‘C’ in the Orange and Black had other ideas.

I mentioned in the Boston series that Mike Richards had won me over this postseason.  His guts, determination, and inspired play all while leading by example on a consistent basis suddenly had come out of no where, and they were helping to lead the Flyers to victory.  These playoffs Mike Richards has won me over.  Last night, he brought me to tears.

With the Flyers shorthanded on a marginal roughing penalty against Kimmo Timonen shortly after the Habs had made it 1-0, the Flyers entered an all-important penalty kill.  Mike Richards, of course, was on the ice.  Early on in the PK, he made a statement, as the puck was passed back to Marc-Andre Bergeron at the point in the Flyers’ zone, and Richards just absolutely leveled him, sending him five feet in the air backwards, setting up a three-on-one the other way.  A Braydon Coburn slapper was eventually stifled by Jaroslav Halak, but the Flyers captain was not giving up.  Later in the penalty kill, a loose puck made it’s way to center ice, and Richards was about to race away on a breakaway.  Roman Hamrlik was giving chase, and, suddenly Halak was as well.  Hamrlik and Halak collided at the top of the circles, squibbing the puck free behind the two of them where Richards lay.  He got himself up quickly, picked up the puck, and buried it right into the back of the net to even up the score and send the Wachovia Center into a raucous frenzy.

The Flyers bench exults after Carter's empty netter sealed the deal

The first period would end 1-1, but it was certainly the Flyers that had taken over play after Richards goal, despite being outshot 9-6.  Entering the second, the Flyers knew they needed to establish themselves in the Montreal zone early, and that they did.  Three minutes into the frame, Matt Carle found Arron Asham wide open in front of Halak.  Asham made a quick backhand to forehand deke and roofed it over Halak, to give the Flyers the all-important 2-1 lead.  Just a minute and a half later, a beautiful tick-tack-toe between Kimmo Timonen, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter resulted in Carter burying a shot just in front of the crease off a pass behind the net from Richards to put the Flyers in front 3-1.  While many in the Wachovia Center felt the Flyers had this one in the bag with the way the rest of the second period went, everyone knew in the back of their minds that nothing was going to come easy after everything this team had been through.  The Flyers dominated the second period for the second game in a row, outshooting Montreal 12-6.

In the third, the thoughts began to creep in.  “20 minutes from a trip to the Final” “All they’ve worked for has come down to this” “Please, o please, dear God, don’t blow it”  Fortunately for the Flyers, lady luck was on their side, as the Orange and Black survived a frantic early push by Montreal to try to make the score 3-2.  Eventually, with 13 minutes left, the Habs would make it a 3-2 game, and send an uneasy feeling through the Wachovia Center.  Still, the Flyers held tough and Leighton was exceptional in goal.  With about a minute and a half left, the Habs pulled Halak in an attempt to save their season and tie the game.

Mike Richards accepts the Prince of Wales Trophy

Mike Richards would have none of it.

The Flyers’ captain brought back images of Bobby Clarke with his determination to race down a loose puck heading towards the Montreal goal.  He would beat Tomas Plekanec, who had about three strides on him to start, to the disc, and drop it back for Jeff Carter to net his second of the game through the legs of the makeshift goaltender, Josh Gorges.  The Wachovia Center went nuts.  The Flyers bench celebrated and hugged.  Michael Leighton exulted by throwing his arms up in the air.

The Philadelphia Flyers – our Philadelphia Flyers – are 2010 Eastern Conference Champions.  How sweet it is!

GAME PREVIEW: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 5 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Posted in Game Previews with tags , on May 24, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers will look to capture their first Eastern Conference championship since 1997 tonight when they meet the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the two teams’ best of seven series in South Philadelphia.

The Flyers convincingly won the first two games of this series on the scoreboard, taking Game One in Philadelphia by a score of 6-0, and following that up with another shut out, winning Game Two 3-0.  However, although they were winning handily where it mattered, the Flyers were very unhappy with their play heading back to Montreal, and knew that they had gotten fortunate breaks the first two games.  It turned out they were right, as the Flyers were shellacked at Bell Centre last Thursday by a final score of 5-1, and the game was never close.  The Flyers took the drubbing personally, and felt like the Canadiens crossed the line with their in-game antics.  As a result, the Flyers turned in perhaps their most complete effort of the playoffs in Game Four, silencing the Montreal faithful to the tune of a well-deserved 3-0 victory, capped off by a pair of goals from Claude Giroux.  Now, the Flyers have the chance to seal a date with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final with a victory tonight.

The Story: If there is any team that should not be taken lightly when on the brink of elimination, it’s the Montreal Canadiens.  While the Flyers were able to make history and fight back from being down 0-3 to the Boston Bruins last round, the Canadiens’ road has arguably been more difficult, and thus, more impressive.  Montreal was down 1-3 to the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals in the first round, before winning the final three games of the series, two of which on Washington’s home ice.  In the second round, Montreal again got behind the eight ball, this time by a count of 2-3 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Habs would end up winning the final two games of the series to advance, and Game Seven was at the Pittsburgh Igloo.  Just because they are down 1-3 to the Flyers does not mean that this team has mentally checked out.  In fact, it almost seems like Montreal likes being the underdog in this type of situation.  They’ve dug themselves out of the elimination hole twice this playoffs, and while there are many a doubter from the outside, the players within the Montreal dressing room believe they can make history once again.  No team in Stanley Cup Playoffs history has won three Game Sevens on the road.  For the Canadiens to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993, they’ll have to earn their spot in history, again.  And it would start with a win in Philadelphia tonight.

Who to Watch on the Canadiens: Brian Gionta, Right Wing.

Gionta needs to step it up offensively for his team to live past Game Five

In a game like this, when the whole season is on the line and a team is on the brink of elimination, it’s only reasonable to expect their best players to shine.  While Mike Cammalleri is the top scorer on the Canadiens, and Scott Gomez may be their best play maker, I honestly believe that Brian Gionta is the team’s best overall offensive talent.  In a game like tonight, he’ll have to have a strong enough effort to help Montreal head home tonight not to begin its off-season, prepare for a Game Six Wednesday night in Montreal.  In the Canadiens three losses this series, Gionta has pretty much been a non-factor every game.  Although the same could be said about his offensive teammates, more of the blame falls on Gionta because he’s a player that can’t be getting shut down so often as he has been in this series.  Combined for the series, he’s a minus-3 with only one point – a goal in Game Three – to his name.  The Canadiens have been shut out three times in this series, and whether the Flyers are playing strong defense or not, Gionta has got to find a way to break through.  He was pretty solid throughout the two contests in Montreal, but was basically invisible through the first two games in Philadelphia.  If something doesn’t change tonight, we’ll likely be seeing Gionta and his Montreal teammates head to the off-season

The Skinny: The Flyers know what’s at stake tonight: a victory and they are champions of the Eastern Conference for the year 2010 and on to the Stanley Cup Final.  A loss, however, could prove to be a huge emotional lift for the Montreal Canadiens, who would then host a Game Six on their home ice.  The Flyers won the two games in this series so far that have been played on the Wachovia Center ice by a combined score of 9-0, but it doesn’t go without saying that in the regular season series between the two clubs, Montreal was victorious one of the two times they made the trek to South Philadelphia, so they have the confidence that they can win in the Wachovia Center.  The Canadiens are 5-0 this postseason when facing elimination.

Notes: Michael Leighton will be in the net again for the Flyers tonight, opposed by a familiar face on the opposite end: Jaroslav Halak for the Montreal Canadiens.  It’s assumed that both clubs will send the same line-ups that appeared in Game Four out on to the ice again tonight, which means healthy scratches for the Flyers will likely consist of Danny Carcillo and Andreas Nodl.  The Flyers are 18-2 in their history when leading a series 3-1, but recently, as in back in the 2000 Conference Finals, they blew a lead of the same count to the New Jersey Devils, losing Games Five and Seven on their home ice in the process en route to what eventually be a Stanley Cup Championship for New Jersey.  Scott Gomez, on this year’s Canadiens, was a member of the Devils team that pulled off that stunning comeback.  It’s predictable that he’ll be giving his team the same advice he learned and witness from his Devils team that season.  This year’s Flyers team wants to add a 19 to that aforementioned total, and not a two.  And, if they can do so tonight, the entire city of Philadelphia will be ready to party and welcome in the Stanley Cup Final to a city that hasn’t had a taste of the “Big Dance” since 1997.

Game Recap: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 4 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Posted in Game Summaries with tags , on May 23, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

The Philadelphia Flyers claimed they were disgraced and upset with the pounding they took Thursday night at Bell Centre.  The Canadiens came at them a far different team than the Flyers had seen in Philadelphia.  The Habs were finishing their checks, scoring past Michael Leighton, and buzzing around the Flyers on a consistent basis.  Oh, and they were running their mouths at the Flyers, something that irked many members of the Orange and Black.

It’s safe to say the Flyers made a statement Saturday afternoon in Montreal.

Ville Leino celebrates his second period goal

The Orange and Black rode Michael Leighton to his third shutout of this series, and silenced an absolutely raucous Bell Centre crowd to the tune of a convincing 3-0 victory.  The Flyers now lead the series three games to one and are just one win away from making the franchise’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1997 – when they were promptly swept right out by the Detroit Red Wings.  This season has been all about overcoming adversity, and proving the naysayers wrong at various points of the campaign, while all at the same time living up to heavy expectations that were placed on the team at training camp.  Now, the Flyers are one more win from fulfilling the first half of many preseason predictions.

Game Four started out very different from Game Three.  The Flyers were buzzing in the Montreal end early, and made sure to get pucks to the net and make life once again difficult for Jaroslav Halak.  Their defensive play was much more crisp, as each time the Habs made their way into the Flyers zone, they were forced to the outside and usually finished along the boards.  If they looked to make a play towards the middle, there usually was a Flyer that was back-checking in the area.  Of course, the first period was even more of a confidence boost for the Flyers as they welcomed the return of Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter from what had previously been thought to have been season-ending injuries.  Still, the Flyers suddenly had a full roster, something they hadn’t fully seen since round one against New Jersey.  After a strong first period, the second frame was when the Flyers really got clicking.

Jacques Martin and the Canadiens look on late in the game, sensing defeat

When the second period began, the Flyers began to dominate.  It started when the Flyers had four shots on Halak in the first 30 seconds.  The period ended with the shots for the stanza heavily in favor of the Flyers, 13-1.  Claude Giroux would cash in on one of the Flyers’ earlier shots in the period, taking a pass in transition in the neutral zone from Kimmo Timonen, and racing into the Montreal zone.  From that point, Giroux blew by Josh Gorges and made a nifty little backhand-to-forehand deke and roofed the puck over the shoulder of Jaroslav Halak to make the score 1-0 in favor of the Flyers.  The Orange and Black were not done in the second, as with just over five minutes to play in the second, the Flyers got a back-breaking goal from Ville Leino, who was sprung on a breakaway off a fantastic cross-ice bomb from Chris Pronger.  Leino walked in on Halak and quickly changed the puck to his backhand at the last second, sneaking it right past Halak’s pad and into the back of the net to stun the Bell Centre crowd.  The Flyers took the 2-0 lead into the locker room and their confidence level was high.

As Kimmo Timonen put it, the Flyers “sat back” in the third period, but it was in a good way.  They were still just as aggressive in the defensive end as they had been all game, stifling many Montreal attack opportunities before they even got started.  Michael Leighton made 9 saves in the third to preserve his shutout and Claude Giroux added his second of the game  – an empty netter late – to seal the deal and send this series back to Philadelphia with the Flyers having a chance to close out this series on their home ice.

The Flyers congratulate Michael Leighton on the Game Four win

Game Five won’t be easy, but the Wachovia Center will be ready to celebrate on Monday night.  The Canadiens have come back from down 1-3 once already this season, doing so against the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals in the first round, and following that up by coming back from down 2-3 to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins last round.  Certainly, it’s not going to be easy for the Flyers to close it out at home; the Canadiens are going to come into South Philadelphia on Monday night with the belief that they can win with their season on the line (already 5-0 in elimination games this postseason) and are going to be at the highest level of desperation possible to save their season.  If the Flyers, on the other hand, can simply even come close to duplicating their performance tonight, they will be in good shape on Monday.

I hate to bring down the mood, but the Flyers can’t let this one get away.  We all know we don’t want this series going back to Montreal, and, better yet, we all remember what happened in this situation in 2000.

GAME PREVIEW: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 4 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Posted in Game Previews with tags , on May 22, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers will look to take a stranglehold on their best of seven Eastern Conference Finals series against the Montreal Canadiens later this afternoon at Bell Centre.

In a series that has typified the NHL’s parity, the eighth seeded Canadiens and seventh seeded Flyers haven’t had a close contest yet.  The Flyers took the first two games in Philadelphia, convincingly, by scores of 6-0 and 3-0.  The Canadiens responded in Game Three, defending the first half of their two games on home ice, also in dominating fashion.  The Habs won Game Three, 5-1.  So now, comes the biggest game in the series for both teams.  Either the Flyers are looking at an opportunity to close out the series on home ice Monday night if they can win this afternoon, or the two teams will be all evened up at two games a piece in 48 hours.

The Story: Game Four will likely mark the return of Ian Laperriere to the Flyers’ line-up.  It turns out, the gritty winger is coming back just in time.  Lappy was injured in Game Five of the Flyers’ first round series against the New Jersey Devils when he blocked a Brian Rolston slapshot with his face.  Lappy suffered a broken orbital bone, a likely concussion, and a brain contusion as a result of the impact of the shot on his face.  At the time, it looked extremely doubtful that Laperriere would don the Orange and Black for the remainder of this season.  However, according to various reports, Laperriere will be back in the Flyers line-up this afternoon.  Of course, Lappy is an energy guy and a player who is absolutely a scratch and claw kind of player.  He’s someone who will give his all every shift regardless of what the scoreboard says, and he’s already established himself as a top-notch penalty killer, as well as a shut-down guy against the opponent’s top players.  Obviously, it’s unreasonable to expect that Lappy will have a profound effect on today’s contest, but the fact that he will be back in the line-up is important enough, and certainly something that will help the Flyers psyche as they play a very important game in front of the hostile Montreal crowd.

Who to Watch on the Canadiens: Tomas Plekanec, Center.

It's only a matter of time before Plekanec finds the scoresheet

Plekanec has flown under the radar where it matters most in this series, having scored a grand total of zero points for the Canadiens in the three contests so far.  However, in the playoffs, he has four goals and seven assists, and was a gigantic reason as to why the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are now sitting at home watching playoff hockey.  Although he hasn’t factored in on the scoreboard – yet – in this series, he still has been a force on the ice, most notably in the face-off circle.  After each game, it appears that Mike Richards’ face-off statistics are getting worse and worse.  That is because he’s been taking draws against Plekanec more and more.  The Czech has been strong in the face-off circle, and, as we know all too well from the Boston series, losing face-offs generally doesn’t result in too many good things for the Flyers.  Still, the Flyers have neutralized Plekanec thusfar offensively, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s been buzzing around Michael Leighton the entire series and has had some strong offensive chances.  He seems like a guy that is poised to breakout, just judging by the fact that he’s had so many close chances the last few games.

The Skinny: If the Flyers can win this game, it will set up an electric – and anticipatory – atmosphere Monday night at the Wachovia Center.  However, if Montreal wins this game, South Philly will still be electric Monday night, but the series will be all evened up at two a piece.  And even though the games will be even, it’s hard to imagine the Flyers would have much of a mental edge on Montreal, who will be working hard to keep their momentum going.

Notes: Michael Leighton will look to bounce back from his first career postseason loss, and he’ll be opposed by Jaroslav Halak.  This is the first game this series that is making an appearance on NBC.  All previous games, and games to follow, will be broadcast on Versus, except for this afternoon.  With Ian Laperriere’s impending return this afternoon, it appears that Andreas Nodl will likely have to take a seat in the press box.  Nodl has played exceptionally well in reserve for the Lappy, and has definitely made a case for himself to make the team next season.  However, if Lappy’s able to play, he’s got to go in.  Therefore, Nodl’s time in the line-up, at least for now, is done.

Game Recap: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 3 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Posted in Game Summaries with tags , on May 20, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

Ladies and Gentlemen, we now cordially invite the Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Finals party.  Their RSVP may have been two games late, but they crashed it about as emphatically as any team in their situation could have.

After totaling 0 goals in the first two games, the Habs exploded for 5 tonight

After losing Game Two in Philadelphia to go down 2-0 in their best of seven series against the Flyers, Montreal was faced with plenty of questions leading up to Game Three on their home ice tonight.  How could they match the physical intensity of Philadelphia?  Would Jaro Halak hold up or had he run out of magic?  Could they tighten up in the defensive zone and limit the lapses?  How in the hell would they possibly beat Michael Leighton?

These questions and more were answered in an emphatic display of desperation Thursday night at the Bell Centre.  How did the Habs match the Flyers’ earlier physical intensity?  They ran them into the boards every chance they got tonight.  Montreal finished their checks, and even went out of their way to let the Flyers know that although they may have had a 2-0 lead in the series heading into tonight, that lead was in serious jeopardy now that the series was back in Montreal.  It seemed almost as if there had been a role reversal in the tone of physical play.  The Flyers, who lead by having the term “physical” basically coined as their middle name, took a beating tonight from Montreal, who is traditionally a far more finesse team.  The Maxim Lapierre monster was released on Philadelphia; all he needed was the comfort of home ice to display his fierce attack strategies.  Jaroslav Spacek suddenly became a wizard with his stick in all the wrong ways, and Josh Gorges’ elbow most likely has some of Claude Giroux’s teeth in it after making contact with the Flyer’s head in the third period.  As for the Flyers, Chris Pronger played his worst game as a Flyer in his brief career in Philadelphia thus far, Daniel Carcillo took a costly penalty in the first, and Arron Asham was repeatedly unsuccessful in trying to bait Montreal players into fisticuffs.  In the end, the Canadiens won the physical battle, but the war is far from decided.

The rough-stuff came into play at the end of the third game, setting the stage for Game Four

Would Halak hold up for the Canadiens tonight?  Or had his time as a stellar netminder come and gone in these playoffs?  I think those questions were put to rest early on, when the Flyers got a power play in the very beginning of the game, and Halak made some incredible stops to keep the crowd energized and his team in the game.  He kept the game tight and eventually even allowed Montreal to pull away, making save after save in his first victory in the series.  He nearly had a shutout, too, but Simon Gagne (who’s only scored seven times in seven games since returning from injury last round) beat him with a turn-around wrister that found the twine late in the third to make the score 4-1 at the time.

Would Montreal be able to tighten things up in the defensive zone and limit the lapses?  Yes, and yes.  Montreal was phenomenal in their own end tonight, as there seemed to be Canadiens on top of the Flyers each and every time a player in Orange and Black got the puck on his stick.  Montreal blocked shots, and forced the Flyers repeatedly to the outside, taking away the Flyers’ customary offensive office: the goalmouth that sits in front of the twine guarded by Halak.  The Flyers were unable to generate any screens in front of Halak, and failed to crash the net on a consistent basis.  As a result, there weren’t any loose pucks sitting in the crease waiting to be smacked home like in games past.  Instead, pucks simply sat in Halak’s glove, or snared up in his equipment, with no option for a rebound or second-chance opportunity.

With their Game Three win, the Habs now have more than a pulse in this series

How the hell would the Habs be able to beat Michael Leighton?  The answer is quickly and often, a complete change-up from the past two games concerning the Flyers’ netminder.  The Canadiens struck five times tonight against Leighton, who still made 33 saves in a losing effort, but was beaten by some unfortunate bounces.  You can’t be incredible all the time and Michael Leighton, if anything else, proved that tonight.  Leights is a confident guy, and I think the team will look for him to bounce back in a big way in Game Four.  For the sake of the Flyers’ psyche before they head home to Philadelphia for Game Five, they certainly will need it.

For the Canadiens, Mike Cammalleri, Tom Pyatt, Dominic Moore, Brian Gionta, and Marc-Andre Bergeron all scored.  Simon Gagne had the Flyers’ lone marker.  Each game in this series has been decided by three or more goals.  Does it mean another blow-out Saturday afternoon, or are we finally due for a tight one?

GAME PREVIEW: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 3 – Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Posted in Game Previews with tags , on May 20, 2010 by Josh Getzoff

The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers will look to open up a commanding three games to zero lead in Game Three of their best of seven Eastern Conference Finals series against the Montreal Canadiens tonight.

So far in this series, it’s been all smooth sailing for Philadelphia, as the Orange and Black took care of the home ice they were awarded in Games One and Two of this series, and own a 2-0 series lead as a result.  The Flyers blew the doors off Montreal in Game One, chasing phenom netminder Jaro Halak to the bench, and winning 6-0.  In Game Two, the Canadiens played a better all-around game than their opponents, but the Flyers made the most of their limited opportunities – got a few strong bounces along the way – and found their way to a 3-0 victory.  Of course, the way Game Two went, this series could easily be split at a game a piece heading into tonight.  However, that is not the case as things have just seemed to go the Flyers way recently, and they now have the opportunity to grab a stranglehold in this series at the Bell Centre.

The Story: Speaking of the Bell Centre, it could make all the difference tonight.  Sure, the Flyers are used to loud, obnoxious buildings – they call one in the Wachovia Center their home barn – but they haven’t played in a tough building of an opposition yet in these playoffs.  In round one, they went to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, which lacked any real enthusiasm or passion from the fan base.  Last round, the ante was kicked up a bit as the Flyers played their road games in Boston, but the crowd in Beantown still was no match in both decibel level and passion for the Orange and Black clad fans that roam the Wachovia Center.  However, in the Bell Centre, and the 20,000 screaming Montreal Canadiens faithful that will bombard the visitors later tonight, the Flyers may have finally met their match.  It’ll likely click somewhere between the rousing ovation for the introduction of the Canadiens to their home ice and the ability of the home crowd to overpower the anthem singer during “O, Canada” that this arena, and this atmosphere are a completely different animal than anything this group of Flyers has seen thus far.  It’ll be loud in the Bell Centre tonight, and it most certainly will be crazy.  It’ll be up to the Flyers to meet the biggest challenge that they have seen up to this point and come out with a strong performance.

Who to Watch on the Canadiens: Scott Gomez, Center.

Gomez will have to atone for his earlier mishaps tonight

Gomez, who was acquired this summer in a deal with the New York Rangers, currently is one of the Assistant Captains in Montreal.  However, through the first two games of this series, Gomez has looked less like a leader and more like a selfish and undisciplined moron.  He’s taken three penalties already in this series, and led the Habs as a group coming into the Conference Finals in total penalty minutes with 19.  It’s one thing to take a penalty, and it’s another thing to burn your team by doing it.  In each of the first two games, the Flyers have taken the first penalty of the contest, thereby giving the visiting Canadiens an early power play and a chance to snatch momentum.  However, in each of the first two games, Montreal’s early power play has been negated by an undisciplined and untimely penalty from – you guessed it – Scott Gomez.  Four on four play has ensued, followed by a brief powerplay as a result of Gomez sitting in the sin-bin.  On each of those early powerplays, the Flyers have capitalized, with Braydon Coburn burying a loose puck in front in Game One and Danny Briere rifling home a snap shot in Game Two.  So, by way of Gomez’s mistakes, the Flyers have reaped the fortunes of an early lead.  What to do to atone for a mishap (or two)?  Make up for it in front of the home fans.  In the case of Gomez, that would mean helping get the Habs their first goal of the series tonight or at least igniting some offensive chances with his play-making ability.  If he plays scapegoat again, he’ll be sure to hear it from the hometown fans, as will the rest of his team.

The Skinny: The last time a Flyers goaltender had back-to-back shutouts to start off a playoff series was in 1975 and done by none other than the legendary Bernie Parent.  Michael Leighton accomplished the back-end of that feat on Tuesday.  Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere will not travel with the Flyers to Montreal, meaning that the line-up we saw in Games One and Two will remain unchanged for at least the next two games.

Notes: Michael Leighton will look to extend his current playoff shutout streak tonight, as he’ll tend goal against Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak.  Leighton’s streak is currently just over 165 minutes.  In their history, when the Flyers have taken a two games to nothing lead in a Conference Final, they have not only gone on to win the series, but also the prized hardware available in the next round: the Stanley Cup.  To say I’m trying hard not to get ahead of myself is a complete and total understatement.