I believe it was Spinal Tap lead signer David St. Hubbins who once said, “There’s a fine line between clever and stupid,” and the Flyers last night proved that point as Joffrey Lupul bagged the series-winning goal in overtime to propel the seemingly-cursed Flyers to the next round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And while the margin was far too thin for any Flyers fan’s standards, who could feel anything less than exuberance as the pain of blowing two two-goal leads washed away? The Flyers’ coaching staff certainly couldn’t hold it in, as they knew as the puck slipped in behind Cristobal Huet that they likely just got a death row pardon from Ed Snider for taking the Flyers to the Conference Semifinal match-up against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens come into the series after winning their own seven-game war with an underrated Boston team, and are packing both the number one power play in the NHL as well as a hot-shot young goalie named Cary Price who will likely be the difference in the series one way or another. The Flyers didn’t fare well against the Canadiens this season, but Biron’s lifetime GAA versus Montreal is not much above 2.00, which is pretty competitive in the playoffs.
The key for the series for the Flyers will be keeping out of the penalty box. They were undisciplined at key times during their series with Washington, and while there is no Alexander Ovechkin on Montreal’s squad, they have a more well-rounded team that can score from every angle. The Habs can blow a game wide open, as they proved in their Game Seven with Boston, or can steal one with a shutout from their goalie. The Flyers have a power play that is equally as good, and as long as they aren’t giving up too many man-advantages, this series could be closer than the pundits think. Biron is also capable of shutting down a playoff-caliber team when the stars align.
The Flyers are in a great place at this stage of the playoffs now that they won their series with Washington. They have proven that they can win a seven-game war and have played beyond most people’s expectations. The 2007-2008 season wasn’t supposed to be a Cup year even by Philly’s unrealistically high standards. Now they are free to play like they have nothing to lose. And if they do, don’t be surprised if they just find a way to win four games in this series and move on.