Saturday, May 03, 2008

Habs bow to pressure, bow out of playoffs

A horrible second period for the Canadiens proved to be the undoing of a pretty good Saturday night party in Montreal.

Carey Price and the Canadiens faced a three minute breakdown in the second, allowing the Philadelphia Flyers to regain their momentum and take the play back to Montreal. A breath of life that would prove fatal for Les Canadiens in the final period of play.

The Flyers stormed back in the second picking up three quick goals to take a 4-3 lead into the third and silencing for a time a boisterous Bell Centre crowd, who until the three minute Montreal meltdown had been practising their singing voices at full throttle.

The Canadiens bounced back in the third scoring a quick goal to tie things up, and Price provided some outstanding saves to keep things even until Flyers winger Scottie Upshall put the game away with three minutes, swatting at a puck in the air to beat Price on the right hand side and finish off the Canadiens season, the empty net marker making it a 6-4 final was just the punctuation mark on the fifth game of the best of seven series.

Price may be handed the goat horns for the three minutes that ended a season, but he has lots of company on the goat trail from game five, Montreal suffered a terrible defensive lapse in that three minute time frame, allowing the Flyers to rush the Montreal end without so much as an angry glance, able to wheel through the zone and fire off shots at the suddenly beleaguered Price.

Offensively Montreal left a few chances on the ice in all three periods, and of course once again the Flyers Martin Biron proved to be more than up to the challenge of shutting down those key scoring opportunities.

While Price had a bad spell in this game and has had struggles through the series, Montreal looked rather ordinary in the last few games, nowhere near the high flying scoring machine that dominated the season and the early playoff round with the Bruins.

Philadelphia on the other hand has grown stronger with each successive round of the playoffs, getting stellar goaltending from Biron and finding that the scoring has come along nicely, providing momentum changes that their opponents can’t seem to adapt to.

The Flyers now await the winner of the Penguins/Rangers series, which if going the way of the Pens will provide for a Pennsylvania showdown for the Eastern title and a hard hitting family feud that should be most entertaining.
For Montreal the surprising and enjoyable regular season and playoff run has come to an end, while it didn’t end as many might have wished it to, the future looks very bright for Canadiens fans.

While some may worry about young Mr. Price’s mindset after a sudden dose of NHL reality in the last few games, he’s more than provided enough tantalizing hope that he’ll be the real deal in rouge, blanc et bleu for a long time to come.

Every goaltender needs to face adversity in the course of their career, it comes with the position. Price as young as he is, has had more than his share in the last few games, but will be fine, the Flyers series will prove to be an educational lesson in the lows of hockey, we suspect that over the course of his career, Mr. Price will be enjoying many more of the highs.

Philadelphia Daily News--Flyers eliminate Montreal
. Pack

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