In my recent playoff predictions, I said the Flyers/Capitals series would be close, high-scoring, and ultimately decided by Washington’s Cristobal Huet outplaying Philadelphia’s Martin Biron in goal.
The Flyers still led the series by a game after Saturday’s 3-2 win by the Capitals, so my pick still needs a wing and a prayer to come true.
But as Huet showed in Washington’s second win of the series, he has to pull nearly as much of a load as Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps’ talented youngsters if his team is to make it to the second round.
That was the combination that did the trick Saturday afternoon, as Huet made 30 saves, and Washington got big contributions on offense from youngsters Alex Semin (a goal and two points), Mike Green (two assists), and Nicklas Backstrom (whose first-period goal gave the Capitals a lead they never relinquished).
Ovechkin didn’t make it to the scoresheet, but his hip-check that catapulted Philly’s Jim Dowd into the Flyers bench won’t soon be forgotten by the Flyers, not to mention YouTube patrons, for years to come.
Washington faces elimination again Monday when Game 6 is played in Philadelphia.
As noted, the Flyers still have the series advantage, but they have to be looking at that showdown as a must-win.
Because if the Caps happen to survive and force a Game 7, they’ll have a sizeable advantage of their own, in the shape of thousands of delirious fans at the Verizon Center.
Those fans, and a little momentum, can go a long way with this group.
Just ask the Carolina Hurricanes.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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