Thursday, May 1, 2008

BEGIN-ning Of The End? Habs Down 3-1

Daniel Briere, or "Danny" as he prefers, pots the game winner on the powerplay on a Steve Begin interference penalty. The Flyers would add an empty netter for the 4-2 win and 3-1 series stranglehold.

Steve Begin looked like a hero blocking a Daniel Briere slapshot early in the third period with Philly already leading 2-0; but Begin quickly went from hero to zero late in the 3rd, taking an ill-advised, highly undisciplined interference penalty on Sami Kapanen...and wouldn't you know it, none other than that very same Daniel Briere would score the game winner on the ensuing powerplay.

R.J. Umberger continued his sensational playoff run tonight with another 2 goals, his 6th and 7th of these playoffs and 6th this series alone. He had 13 in 74 regular season games.

Umberger opened the scoring tonight midway through the 2nd on a 5-on-3 powerplay, wristing a shot past Jaroslav Halak shortside from the left wing. Briere had an assist on the goal.

The Flyers added to their lead early in the third, as Scott Hartnell banged home a Vaclav Prospal rebound that had initially beaten Halak far-side but rang off the post. The whole play started with Bryan Smolinski giving the puck away in the neutral zone, directly onto Prospal's blade.

The Habs would find life late in the game once again, just as they did in game 3 on the undisciplined Derian Hatcher 5-minute boarding major.

Tomas Plekanec would deflect a Josh Gorges point wristshot through Marty Biron's legs to narrow the gap to one goal with 7:01 remaining in the game.

Saku Koivu would then tie the game 57 seconds later with his 3rd of the playoffs, converting a rebound off a Mark Streit blue-line slapper that was blocked down by Randy Jones in front of Biron.

Francis Bouillon had the secondary assists on both goals.

Then, at 15:52, Begin was called for interference as he completely blindsided Sami Kapanen into the Canadiens bench-boards, dangerously close to the closing door. Kapanen had dished the puck on a pass about 3 seconds prior to the hit, effectively removing him from the play and causing Begin's otherwise legal hit to be called as interference.

Daniel Briere needed all but 30 seconds to put the stake through the hearts of the Habs players and fans, swatting home a rebound off a shot that never quite got through to Halak, hitting a maze of bodies in front.

R.J. Umberger added his 2nd of the game into the empty net with just under 2 seconds remaining.

Martin Biron once again out-goaled his counterpart, this time being Jaroslav Halak; he stopped 36 of 38 en route to the win. Halak stopped 22 of 25, and hardly was to blame for this loss.

Halak was tested early in the game, as the Habs came out gunning much in the way they played in the 3rd period of game 3, but did give up a shorthanded breakaway to Jeff Carter which required a great save from Halak. The Habs simply failed once again to give their goalie a lead to work with, despite having their goalie make some pretty big saves to keep them in the game.

Biron also made his fair share of great saves, including a notable stop on Steve Begin shorthanded, who took a feed from a hard-forechecking Maxim Lapierre from behind the net in the slot and wristed it off a reacting Biron's right pad, practically on the goal line.

He also came up huge on Tom Kostopoulos in the first, stacking the pads on a short-side try that was also setup from behind the net by Smolinski.

Biron, who grew up a die-hard Quebec Nordiques fan and used to meet the team returning from road-trips as a child, has got to be loving the fact that he is a potentially major reason of Montreal's exit in these playoffs.

Daniel Briere, who refused to sign a more lucrative, 8-year deal with Montreal so he could play alongside super-sniper Simon Gagne, must be loving this as well.

Montreal went 0-for-4 on the powerplay; Philly was 2-for-4.

The Flyers have now scored the first two goals of the game all four games of the series.

The thought has quickly shifted already to Saturday's fifth game of the series.

"We have to find a way to get it done," Briere said. "We have to go in there with a mind-set that it's Game 7."

He's not kidding.

The Flyers squandered this very same 3-1 lead in the first round, allowing the Capitals to tie the series at 3 forcing a 7th game in Washington. The Flyers needed overtime to win that one off Joffrey Lupul's stick.

Montreal can certainly benefit from the 2 days of rest before Saturday's game. On top of that, the scheduling still favors Montreal.

With game 5 at home, the Habs can rest up and use the home-fans to their advantage. Game 6 (should there be one) would take place the very next night, Sunday, back in Philly, where the momentum gained from a (possible) win in game 5 would easily transfer through. Should the Habs win there, they'd have a day to settle down before (a potential) 7th game back in Montreal on Tuesday night.

This may be wishful thinking, but it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility, is it?

Despite having a good night in goal, expect Halak to sit game 5 out in favor of Carey Price.

Also, look for the Habs to get Michael Ryder back into the lineup, as the Habs now need any bit of possible offense from here on out.


x-ine said...

I usually don't put the blame on single players when the Habs lose ... but B├ęgin cost us the game with a STUPID penalty. It wasn't even a good penalty!

I'm disappointed and frustrated because it totally killed the momentum and they just couldn't come back after it.

They have not led once in regulation this entire series.

How is it that they only figured out how to score against Biron (i.e., crashing the net) in the last half of the 3rd period? Another story of too little, too late.

Time for a comeback? I've got (faint) hope. If they can at least win Game 5 and send it back to Philly, I'm good with that.

kev said...

The way the games have been played it actually seems more likely than not that montreal not only forces 6 but wins the series, all they need is for Biron to be a little more human. Scoring the first goal of the game (earlier the better) in game 5 is an absolute must and the longer it stays a scoreless tie, the worse for the habs; I'm no goaler but I'm positive that playing with a 1 or 2 goal lead would make Price play at his best, or at least better than he has.
Hopefully ryder comes in and latendresse sits this one out, which probably won't happen (latendresse sitting out). But in the end Carbonneau can make all the line-up changes he wants, at this point they just need a little luck.

sasabainga said...

Very well put you guys.

The Habs DID figure out late how to score against Biron, and that was the case not only in game 4 but game 3 as well.

I sttongly believe this series goes at least to 6...winning 6 in Philly is going to be the game of the year, more so than 5. TOTALLY agree that jumping out to an early lead is key, or at least getting the first goal of the game for the first time.

Luck can;t back up one goalie too much, so I think down 3-1 it's due to change sides (at least temporarily).

Holy hell has Biron ever been lucky.

x-ine said...

I feel like Biron has a horseshoe up his ass. To me, he's the only reason why the series is 3-1 Philly. If he sucked just a little bit, I believe we would have swept them.

You're both right about scoring first. I thought it was going to happen last night ... but it didn't. They need the confidence that they can score early and often. If they do it in Game 5, they will win. Guaranteed.

paul said...

I really believe that they can come back to win the series, now they have no choice they have to win just like game 7 versus boston i think they will come out gunning and Price will come out with a strong performance,the key is going to be that they got to stop giving up the blue line and the d men got to start to pinch and keep the puck deep in phillys zone, they do that and they will cut up philly.

sasabainga said...

BELIEVE...that's the key word.

It DEFINITELY can be done!

For it to happen, Paul's points have to be followed of course, and the play of certain individuals has to step up:

Mark Streit, who has had a dismal series;

Alex Kovalev, who isn't reacting well to being checked by Braydon Coburn;

Chris Higgins, who has to POT SOME CHANCES!!! and outwork his man in the corner-battles;

CAREY PRICE, who needs to return to form now with the extra rest.

Pitoux said...

Is the Price right:...Calder Cup winner....Jack A Butterfield Trophy...2007 MVP at World Jr.....CHL goaltender of the year.......dont just trust in me....