We know history tells us the Flyers are 16-0 all-time when winning the first two games of a playoff series. It’s duly noted. That’s history. History won’t be playing a desperate Canadiens team on their home ice tonight before wild towel-waving, frothing-at-the-mouth fans at the Bell Centre.
The Flyers should be the ones who come out as if they’re down 2-0 tonight!
Winning Game 3 slams a foot down hard on the Canadiens’ throats, making everyone in Flyers’ Country feel a helluva lot better. Not completely secure, mind you, but certainly on the right path to the Stanley Cup Finals. Remember, this is a Montreal team that trailed 3-1 to Washington and came back, and were down 3-2 to the defending world champion Penguins and came back and won that series. I know, I know, the Flyers staged a comeback for the ages in rebounding against Boston. And I know this is a strange year in the NHL, where being able to close seems to be a problem for some teams.
The Flyers haven’t had that problem. They shouldn’t start now. They’ve outscored both Boston and Montreal 13-0 since looking up at a 3-0 deficit to the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Flyers own a six-game playoff winning streak against Montreal. They have the momentum right now. And what goalie has been better in the postseason that Michael Leighton? He’s 4-0 in his playoff career. Who would have thought the Flyers would get this kind of air-tight performance from a 28-year-old journeyman? Now is not the time to have the journeyman Leighton resurface. We’ll take Leighton channeling “Bernie” that’s stopped 128-of-132 shots for an amazing .969 save percentage in the playoffs–including a perfect streak of 165 minutes, 50 seconds into Game 3.
A Montreal victory places a completely new spin on the series–it lets the Canadiens up to breathe, after the Flyers have held their collective heads under water in a 9-0 bashing the first two games of this series. Going up 3-0 places a serious psychological edge in the Flyers favor. Think Montreal can come back again from the brink for a third-straight series? Not likely. Not the way the Flyers have them hemmed in right now, and not the way Leighton has frustrated them.
Again, history tells us this is the first time a Montreal team has been shutout in successive games since Games 1 and 2 against Buffalo back in 1983. The Sabres won that series 3-0, back when the early rounds of the NHL playoffs had a best-of-five format. Again, that was history. It won’t help the Flyers tonight. But maybe a healthy dose of Leighton and his recent history against the Habs will.
Winning Game 3 is the key. Montreal is still a very dangerous team that’s smelled golf course grass a few times now already and fought back. Now is the time to have the Habs really thinking of grabbing their golf bags.