Saturday, May 22, 2010

Leighton shines yet again as Flyers take commanding 3-1 series lead

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
It's getting to the point where I have run out of things to say about how good the Flyers are playing. Game 4 in the Eastern Conference Finals was more of the same for them as they had a ton of energy, scored timely goals and got rock solid goaltending in a 3-0 win over the Canadiens. The win was huge for the Flyers as they come home needing just one more win before they can move on to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 4 was all about the Flyers showing whether they could bounce back from adversity. After getting outplayed in Game 3, the Flyers needed to respond or else the Canadiens were going to make take all the momentum in the series. The Flyers didn't let that happen, though, as they dominated play for most of the game and effectively neutralized the Canadiens boisterous crowd.

Michael Leighton once again came up big for the Flyers, stopping the meager 17 shots the Canadiens put on net. This game was another instance where Leighton didn't have to be ridiculously good, just in the right place at the right time. With the Flyers defense blocking 27 shots themselves, Leighton just has to be ready for those few tough chances that actually get through to him. For those scoring at home, that's 3 shutouts in 4 games against Montreal.

Offensively for the Flyers, they continue to get scoring from all lines. Tonight, with the top line and power play failing to produce any goals, Claude Giroux got two goals from the third line and Ville Leino got a goal from the second line. The emergence of Giroux, who now has 8 playoff goals and 16 playoff points, has been one of the better stories of the playoffs and really shows just how deep the Flyers are at forward. How many other teams in the NHL have a third line center that can do the things this kid can do? As for Leino, just remember to chuckle at the fact that the Flyers got him for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a 5th round draft pick as you notice his 12 points in 12 playoff games.

The Flyers also got a boost in Game 4 by the return of Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere. While neither player scored a point, both each made an impact in the game. For Laperriere, it was mixing it up with the Canadiens every chance he got. For Carter, it was making the most out of the incredibly short shifts in the beginning of the game as he tried to get his legs under him. Once he did, he had a few flashes of brilliance on his way to tying for the team lead in shots.

After a rocky Game 3, all is well in Flyerland again. While the Flyers have three more chances to put away the Canadiens, you can bet they will be focused on putting them away at home in Game 5 and avoid having to go back to Montreal again. If they play at all like they did in Game 4 they will be just four wins away from bringing home the Cup.

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