Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Leighton (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri, Pyatt, Moore, Gionta, Bergeron
Opposition goalscorers: Gagne
A game can go many different ways, so getting off to a good start sure helps to tip the scales in your favour. Scoring the first goal is something that has worked well for us this year and, as we have seen recently, when we don't get the lead we are an easier team to beat. Tonight, seven minutes in, Cammalleri made a great play to put us up by 1; it was a lead that we would never give up. It started with Mike pushing a player towards the goalie to give himself room (being cheap and not getting called - excellent) and then a shot off net from P.K. came in. The puck came out the other side and Leighton, as he was trying to get over, got caught in the player that was pushed towards him. With an open net there was no doubt: 1-0 Habs.
It is often said that players like Gionta (your big players; oh the irony) have to step up in games like this, must-wins, and that is just what he did. He scored a fabulous goal and had many other great chances throughout the night. His 7 shots on goal, again, impressed me as he always knew what to do, where to go.
Max plays best when he is mad, when the other team gives him a reason to be mad. Now, for the third time in these playoffs, Laps finally hates the opposition. The edge was back, the pestering revealed again and that is exactly what we needed from him. His line was dynamite all game as they scored 2 goals and spent a lot of time in Philly's end.
Lapierre's linemate, Moore, also played a very good game and, once again, gave a very good french interview after 40. With play like this and media relations like that one would have to be very blind to not see that he is a perfect fit in Montreal. He was back to his 1st/2nd round self with very solid play throughout the game, in both ends. He was a big reason why we won tonight as, in all, he had a goal, an assist and was +2.
Roman Hamrlik - Game Puck
I had Roman in the dome before I knew the stars, then I found out that he was first star. Without a choice of my own yet I wanted to find out more. What I saw, I liked. He picked up 2 assists, although neither were crucial passes, but also did so much more. In addition to his points, and his +4 rating, he was very good in front of Halak and played a near perfect game with Subban. As good as everyone has been I think he has to be our general, he has to be Markov's replacement. If tonight was any indication (the day after Markov has been ruled out for the year) I would say he may very well be up for the job.
Number three in D-man ice-time (Hammer, Gorges) was Spacek tonight and I thought that he deserved every second. He played with either O'Byrne or Bergeron the whole night and did a lot to make sure that they didn't look too bad. Early on Jaro was making big defensive plays on almost every shift and I felt that that played a big part in helping Halak get into the game in a good way.
Jaroslav made some huge saves early on which I think took the Flyers out of the game as much, if not more so, than our own goals. 26 shots against is a quiet night for him, but it was back to making it look easy, back to doing what he had to do. It was a shame to see that one goal go in, but, apart from hurting the stats (who cares), I have no problem with it.
One thing that we have to remember, even after this game, is that Leighton is a bad goalie and that Philly was barely better than us over the course the year. That gives me confidence, it gives me confidence that tonight's Halak is closer to the real goalie than Sunday's. It makes me even happier to know that Cammalleri hasn't forgotten how to score (I was really worried for a second) and that our D can play at the NHL level. Enough with idiotic statements, though, because all that matters is that this is the playoffs. Who has the best this or that doesn't matter at all. Can't the two teams in this series be example enough of that? The only thing that matters at this time of year is how much you want it. Tonight the Habs wanted it more than Philly and more than they wanted it since Game #7, and it showed. Our win tonight ensures that this series keeps going, not that we will win. We are as likely to win 5-1 on Saturday as we are to lose 0-6. The playoffs are like that and that is just a fact. Montreal knows what they have to do and they have the tools to do it, but the problem is that the same can be said for Philly. If, however, we can all play to our potential then we have the edge, we can win the series. If we don't want it as much, or more, than them then why would we even want to be in the Cup final? Saturday is the next step along the way and it would be a very good idea to win it. I won't, however, count this team out until they are out and I will keep believing as long as they believe themselves.