The Flyers are up 2-0 in the series right now and have outscored Montreal 9-0 in the first two games as they head to the Bell Centre for Montreal’s two home games. The scoreboard has made the Flyers look like they’ve steamrolled the Habs so far, but that hasn’t exactly been the case. The first period so far this series has been a problem for us and the Habs seem to come out more aggressive to start the game. Yet, we managed to come away with a 1-0 lead in both games and then start a dominant second period. That can’t happen tonight, especially in a hostile building. Montreal is a good team and you have to expect them to up the ante in front of their home crowd to avoid a 3-0 hole. They have yet to score a goal on Leighton, so they’re going to be hungry as hell looking for that one goal to set them off and gain some confidence. As a fan, I was very disappointed on Tuesday night as I watched the first period, and I hope it is not a repeat performance tonight. There’s a lot of storylines emerging in this series as Leighton has not allowed a goal since the first period of Game 7, and the Flyers have found their offensive stride and have gotten key goals from their best players as well as other players who aren’t always on the stat sheet.
The Flyers have the chance to go up 3-0 tonight, and I personally wouldn’t mind that. I never would cheer against the Flyers, but I think they can afford to lose one game in this series to wake them up a bit. They haven’t lost in their past six games, and I’d rather them get a loss now to bring them back down to Earth rather than take a bad loss next round. I’d like them to win tonight then lose Game 4. I know it is too early to talk about it, but I have full confidence in this team that they can and will make it to the Finals. Another reason I’d like this series to go to five games is so our possible returning players can get a game in to get back in shape. Jeff Carter has been practicing a bit lately, but I sincerely hope he does not return. Where would you put him? You have our three centers in Richards, Briere, and Giroux. All three of those lines have been playing some great hockey. My most logical thought would be to put Carter on a wing with Richards and Gagne, and bump Carbomb down to the 4th line. You cannot break up the Briere line because Hartnell and Leino are tearing it up with him. I think over the past 8 games that the Giroux-centered line with Asham and JVR has been one of our more consistent lines all-around in getting pucks in deep and creating chances. But I digress, Carter has two broken feet and is not fully recovered. I think it would be a mistake to let him back in the line-up.
Lappy on the other hand, has been cleared for contact this week and has been practicing. Lappy is the kind of guy who would only help us, considering he’d replace Nodl in the line-up. I think Andreas Nodl has done a great job in filling Lappy’s shoes, but you can’t argue that a healthy Lappy is replaceable. His conditioning is probably getting better, and I think after a game or two he would be back ready to block some shots and be the go-to guy for playing his heart out (with a full cage on this time, of course). With Laperriere coming back, you don’t have to take minutes away from your top nine forwards who have been playing at a high level lately. Moving him into the line-up makes more sense than a Carter move, and I hope Holmgren and Laviolette understand that. Carter is a good player no doubt, but he is injured still and I don’t think we need to risk the chemistry right now just so he can have a chance to play for the Stanley Cup, ya know?
My best case scenario would be the Flyers winning tonight and going up 3-0, and possibly dropping Game 4 to bring it back to Philly. That way, we got a shot to end it in give games at home. I know it is weird that I don’t want my favorite team to sweep those damned Habs, but I really believe that a loss could extend the series just one more game and bring down the team enough so they play a little harder in the opening period. They’ve battled, they’ve crowded Halak, and they’ve done a great job of limiting chances in their own zone. The Habs may have outshot the Flyers for some periods, but the shots have been from bad angles, and most of the second-chance rebounds have been swept away by our defense and the pucks have been moving out of the zone in good fashion.
Danny Briere and Simon Gagne return to their home tonight and we all expect for Danny B. to be showered with some angry boos. Both of these guys have been on fire since Game 4 of last round, and you know they’re going to bring something a little extra tonight since they will be playing in front of some of their friends and family. What happened last time the Flyers visited Montreal?
Can he do it again tonight? Tonight’s game will either put us in the driver’s seat needing just one more win, or it will bring the Habs within one win of tying this thing up. Let’s win it tonight.