Sunday, May 16, 2010

Still rolling: Flyers crush Canadiens in Game 1

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
After pulling off their miracle comeback against the Bruins in the last series, the Flyers decided to try a different tactic against the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals: crush them from the very beginning. That's just what the Flyers did in Game 1, dominating the Canadiens in every way possible en route to a 6-0 drubbing.

The offense came from everywhere for the Flyers on Sunday as 6 different players scored goals and 9 different players registered at least one point. Braydon Coburn, of all people, started off the scoring when he chipped in a power play goal early in the first period. The avalanche of goals didn't happen until much later, though, as the floodgates opened after James van Riemsdyk scored off a faceoff and Danny Briere and Simon Gagne both ripped shots by a screened Jaroslav Halak all before the midway point of the second period. The Flyers were rolling at that point and chased Halak from the game, forcing them to turn to backup Carey Price, who they promptly scored on twice more in the third period just for good measure.

The Flyers weren't just on a roll offensively, though, as Michael Leighton proved once again that he is more than capable of carrying the Flyers if he needs to. While Leighton wasn't challenged much throughout the game, he did make the few tough saves he needed to as he made 28 saves and shut out the Canadiens. While the Flyers defense deserves a lot of credit for limiting opponents to very few good scoring chances, Leighton deserves credit for shutting the door any time a leak got through.

Game 1 was a huge statement for the Flyers. Not only did they use their size to beat down the diminutive Canadiens forwards but they also flashed their speed as their transition game set up the offensive attack. On top of all of that, the Flyers also took the Canadiens biggest advantage, Halak, and chased him right out of the game. Montreal would be long eliminated from the playoffs if it wasn't for Halak but he hasn't played that poorly since the very beginning of the playoffs. Hopefully the Flyers lodged themselves into his brain and he will think more than just play for the next few games.

While it's exciting to see the Flyers destroy an opponent, it's important to remember it's just one win and that the Flyers only lead the series 1-0. Hopefully the Flyers know to use this game as a starting point and not as a statement on how every game in this series is going to go. You can't just count out the Canadiens because you know they will make adjustments and come out in Game 2 ready to take it to the Flyers. While a 6 goal loss can be demoralizing, it can also serve to pump up a team that wants to get revenge for being embarrassed. It will be up to the Flyers to match the intensity and energy they brought in Game 1 and prove that what happened was no fluke.

One win down, 7 more to go. This Flyers team is clearly focused on the big prize and has more than enough talent to get it done.

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