Martin Biron put an end to the Philadelphia Folders.
Distill Game 2 down to a pair of key moments from the second period and you’ll find Martin Biron wearing No. 14.
No, the Flyers goalie didn’t switch up his No. 43 sweater, he simply had Tomas Plekanec’s number on two glorious scoring chances that could have changed the trajectory of the game while Philly had a two-goal lead.
First he thwarted the Habs center on a breakaway from the Canadiens blueline. Then he stunned everybody in the rink by snagging a shot from five feet out in the dying seconds of the middle frame with Montreal on a power play.
That save nearly caused Plekanec to smash his stick over the crossbar and definitely had fans burying their heads in their hands.
But the Flyers kept their chins up. And even though Montreal narrowed the gap early in the third, those saves on Plekanec went a long way in maintaining the swagger of a team that’s lost games after holding a two-goal advantage on three occasions this spring.
SECONDARY SKILL ADVANTAGE
Given neither team has a lock-it-down defense, this is going to be a series of scoring chances.
The fact Philadelphia has a better buriers-to-diggers ratio will serve it well. Assuming both teams’ top two lines generate roughly the same amount of red lights, the ability of guys on the remaining two trios to convert opportunities will be a big factor.
The heart of Montreal’s pluggers can’t be questioned, but the guys on the Flyers’ third and fourth lines have slightly better hands.
Since lines are pretty fluid, let’s just say for the sake of argument Daniel Briere, Mike Richards, Vaclav Prospal, Joffrey Lupul, Scott Hartnell and Scottie Upshall are Philly’s top six forwards.
That still leaves the likes of Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger and Sami Kapanen patrolling the ice when the big boys rest.
The Canadiens’ top six is undeniable: Plekanec, Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Chris Higgins, Sergei Kostitsyn and Andrei Kostitsyn.
But as much as their grinders have contributed – especially the line of Bryan Smolinski, Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos – they’re not exactly known for pinging pucks off water bottles.
Playoff games are inevitably decided by the smallest of margins and Philly definitely has one or two more players than Montreal capable of doing damage from the slot.
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.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
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