The Engels Angle: Habs Don't Have Rock to Battle Goliath Flyers
By Eric Engels
Published Wednesday, January 26, 2011 7:21AM EST
MONTREAL - The Canadiens took three consecutive penalties at the end of a hard-fought first period, allowing the Flyers to take a 2-0 lead on two 5-on-3 opportunities. They surrendered a third goal before the game was 21-minutes old.
Not exactly a recipe for success against the league's best team.
The Canadiens were heavily favoured in the special teams battle (probably the only part of the match-up that favoured them), and yet the Flyers absolutely dominated that aspect of the game.
But it wasn't the 5-2 final score, nor the three powerplay goals that signified what kind of domination this was; it was the 30 shots the Philadelphia players fearlessly blocked, the twenty hits they threw and the eight penalties the killed off with determination.
The Flyers dominated in the areas of the game they're supposed to dominate in against a team structured like the Canadiens are. They did the same in the two other games that gave them a 3-1 season-series edge over the Habs. They did the same in their 4-1 conference final victory over the Habs, last year.
The indiscipline of the Canadiens was certainly not part of the game-plan, but adherence to the game plan is that much harder to come by against an opponent like the Flyers.
At a certain point, one has to consider that the Canadiens, despite the heart and character they've shown in battling the adversity of devastating injuries, don't have the rock to battle a Goliath like Philadelphia.
Not to say they can't take down other great teams in the Eastern Conference. That much they've already proven.
Canadiens fans will happily wave goodbye to the Flyers for the rest of the regular season, likely believing that another playoff match-up with Philly would be like a check up with Dr. Kevorkian.
Pierre Gauthier should be busy trying to bolster the roster over the week of inactivity the All-Star break affords. With some reinforcements the Canadiens could have a different complexion by the time they next meet Philadelphia.
In the meantime, the team will take solace in not surrendering their hold on a playoff spot for 49 of the 50 games they've played thus far. They've got 32 coming up that promise to be tougher than the first 50.
Making the playoffs will be tougher than a game against the Flyers, but you gotta believe the Habs can do it when you look back at what they've done since they were put together by Gainey in the off-season of 2009.
We'll have to wait a week to see what they can do. But it's only a week, until the wildest ride of the season begins.