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Cullen: Flyers Finish Off Habs

Scott Cullen
5/24/2010 10:27:43 PM
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The Philadelphia Flyers proved to be too much for the Montreal Canadiens to handle, but it's not like the Canadiens didn't have opportunities.

After going 0-for-6 on the power play in Game Five, Montreal finished the series 1-for-22 (4.5%), with the only marker coming in the final minute of Game Three (which, in the ever-sensitive world of professional sports, apparently angered the Flyers). 

Considering the Flyers scored a shorthanded goal in Game Five, that made the Canadiens a net even throughout the series on the power play and that's no way to achieve postseason success.

Philadelphia's shorthanded goal, by Mike Richards, turned the tide of Game Five.  After Montreal opened the scoring, Richards capitalized on a risky play by goaltender Jaroslav Halak (who played well overall) losing a race to the puck and ended up with Mike Richards putting the puck in an empty net.  Already fighting an uphill battle, could ill-afford to have a goal like that go against them.

At the other end, Michael Leighton was a steady hand for the Flyers, stopping 95% of Montreal's shots in the series.  Leighton's been a journeyman throughout his career, but did seem to find a good situation in Philadelphia this year, posting a career-best goals against average (2.48) and save percentage (.918). 

While that might make his playoff performance a little less surprising, it was still an unlikely scenario to have him come back from a high-ankle sprain and turn the Flyers' playoff fortunes around.

The bottom line is that Montreal couldn't generate enough offence in the series.  Most notably, regular season leading scorer Tomas Plekanec had only four assists in the last playoff 13 games, with nothing on the board against the Flyers. 

Andrei Kostitsyn didn't score after his hat trick in Game Two against Washington; that's 17 games with only three assists to show for it.

Now, Philadelphis squares off with Chicago for the Stanley Cup.  Both teams have great young forwards, workhorse defencemen and previously unheralded goaltenders; Chicago will be favoured, but it should make for an interesting series.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.

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