The Season Series
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The Habs owned this one in the regular season, taking 8 out of 8 points in 4 games they played. Carey Price recorded his first NHL shutout on the front end of their February home-and-home with the Flyers and stopped 66 of 67 shots over the two games. Philadelphia went 2 for 22 on the power-play in the season series, while Montreal was a better 6 for 25.
- Puck possession will be a key aspect of this series. Montreal plays well in transition (and can certainly handle a run and gun pace well) but their cycle work down low and into the slot has been impressive all season. The Flyers defense will be tested and the pairing of Jaroslav Modry and Jason Smith (assuming it stays in tact) will have to step up. They were out there for most of Washington's goals in the first round and looked downright pitiful at times. If their level of play doesn't improve, this could be a short series. Expect John Stevens to have little patience for their defensive incompetence - especially if the Flyers get behind early. In that case, I wouldn't be surprised to see the defensive combinations juggled to adjust for Montreal's potent attack.
- Montreal and Philadelphia had the #1 and #2 regular season power plays, respectively. Whatever team draws more penalties will gain a significant advantage, unless one of the PK's takes over and dominates the series. I like Philly's power play, but I have to give the edge to Montreal's unit - Streit and Markov combined with all that talent up front is very difficult to defend.
- Carey Price handles the puck with the best of them, so Philly will also need to be wary of where they dump the puck and how they advance into the offensive zone. Price does a great job buying time for his defenders in their breakouts. Much like the Rangers approached playing Martin Brodeur in the 1st round by consistently dumping it into the corners, I'd expect to see the Flyers try to limit Price's chances to play the puck.
Martin Biron: He was publicly criticized for performing poorly in back to back starts leading up to Game 7 and responded with a great game (and even better 3rd period). Montreal is a different animal than Washington and their attack is more balanced. While the Caps had two solid scoring lines, the Habs can put the puck in with all four. He'll need to be at his best if the Flyers are going to have any chance.
I'm going to say Habs in 6, but I would not be surprised if this was a short series.
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