If I’ve learned one thing in all my days of watching hockey its that when the playoffs come, fans will over-react. No matter what the situation, people who watch their club win or lose will get carried away drawing conclusions that have little to do with reality, and much to do with the optics of one single contest. I’m not going to downplay the display the Flyers put on in their 6-0 trouncing of the Canadiens on Sunday, but fans have a special way of blowing every small detail ridiculously out of proportion. A terrible game for the Canadiens is just that – one of 3 they are allowed in a series. People soon forget that Chicago was trounced 5-1 in the opener of their series with Vancouver. When does Vancouver play again? That would be October 2010. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with a deflating 6-3 victory in Game 1 of the Conference Semi-Finals, which signaled to the hockey world that the Canadiens Cinderella run was all but dead. I remember what happened in that series.
This is not to say that the Canadiens will have an easier time tonight than they did on Sunday. The Flyers are a team that combines skill with grit and is getting some timely saves. That is a tough combo to beat – but this is a best of 7 series, and much is left to be determined. The Canadiens will have to over-haul their game in order to restore the respect they had earned in the first two rounds. It will start with getting it right between their ears. Every time the Canadiens made a mistake on Sunday, the puck found its way to the back of their net. They are going to need timely saves, and a much more efficient transition game if they are going to be able to play to the Flyer’s weaknesses.
One game does not make or break a series, so there is no reason for the mass of reactionaries calling for a sweep on both sides of this series. That said, momentum is a dangerous thing in sports. The Flyers now know what they can do, and how to do it. Montreal needs to find a way to elevate their game tonight. If they can, we have a brand new series. If they can’t there could be trouble.
Go Habs Go!!!