At about 5:45PM Sunday evening I had a bad feeling about Game 1 against the Flyers. They’d been riding high after either A) the biggest comeback in sports history or B) the biggest choke job in sports history. I like giving credit where credit’s due so I’m leaning to the side of the comeback. From 3-0 and 3-0 is muchos impressive.
You’ve definitely got swagger after that.
A lot of panels, pundits, and prognosticators gave the edge to the Flyers in this series even before Game 1. The Flyers were too deep, too strong, too big, and generally just too much to handle.
Getting man-handled every which way on Sunday, the Habs looked slow, intimidated, and very, very small. (Anyone see Brian Gionta try and screen Michael Leighton? I don’t think Leighton even noticed – Gio’s generously listed at 5’7”; Leighton is a healthy 6’3”.)
Post-game those panels, pundits, and prognosticators were patting themselves on the back.
This won’t even take 6 or 7 games. The Flyers will walk away with this series in 4 or 5. They’re just too big, strong, and skilled for the poor little Habs.
Blah blah blah.
Yes, we got beat.
From top to bottom.
In our zone, in their zone even in the in-between zone.
Even in the parking lot.
We got beat.
And who are we, again, suddenly?
We’re the underdogs.
The Flyers went from ugly step-sister to Cinderella to Wicked Witch.
We’ve gone from Cinderalla-at-the-ball to Cinderella-scrubbing-the-floors.
Flyers fans think they’ve won the Cup.
But you know what?
We’ve lost one game.
We’ve lost games before. Heck, we went down 3-1 to the mighty Washington Capitals. And you know what else? I’m glad we lost 6-0 and not something close like 2-1 or 3-2 in OT.
Sunday, only one team showed up to play hockey and it wasn’t the guys in bleu-blanc-rouge. The Flyers were good but not great. We just sucked.
And we got embarrassed. And sometimes – that can be a good thing.
And it’s an especially good thing for this team.
Because this team has pride.
They want to win and will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. We’ve seen it for 14 games so far this post-season.
For some reason they just weren’t ready on Sunday. They will be on Tuesday.
Jaroslav Halak will bounce back. Like usual after being pulled, he’ll be phenomenal. He wins games after being pulled. He doesn’t let in goals. He doesn’t give up.
The D will settle down, be more active in front of our net and steadier when trying to maintain possession in the Flyers’ zone. Hopefully, Ryan O’Byrne gets an opportunity to use his size and keep the lines of sight open for our netminder.
Our small, speedy forwards must use that speed. Draw penalties, don’t take them. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t retaliate or talk trash to the refs. We did that against the Caps and dug ourselves into a hole. But Jacques Martin made adjustments and the players did their jobs. We played our game – not theirs. And when we put that together, we won games.
Let’s not play crash-bang against a crash-bang team. Let’s do what we do best.
Quick neutral zone transitions.
Keep the slots clear and let shots come from the perimeter.
Convert on the powerplay and deny on the PK.
Look, we beat the league’s Number One team. We then beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions. We can beat the Number 7 seed.
We’re coming back for Game 3 in Montreal with the series all tied up.