Saturday night’s Game 5 will be the second do
or die situation for both the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers,
both teams having won their first. History is not on the Habs’ side
though, as the team has only came back to win 1 series when training 3-1, back
in 2004 vs Boston, the last time the team was in that situation.
The goaltending speculation was ended on Friday, as Guy Carbonneau announced
that Carey Price will return between the pipes after a 1-game reprieve. As
for other changes, Friday’s practice lines indicate that there will be none,
although the forward units may return to where they were earlier in the
playoffs. The practice lines were reportedly as follows:
A. Kostitsyn – Plekanec – Kovalev
Higgins – Koivu – S. Kostitsyn
Begin – Smolinski – Kostopoulos
Latendresse – Lapierre – Streit
(Some sources are reporting that Dandenault may find himself on the 4th line in
place of Streit, which would indicate some sort of lineup change.)
The other "change" for the Habs will be in coach Carbonneau’s wardrobe, as
yes, the tie is back for another game. It is not yet known if the Flyers
will be making any changes to the lineup, but given that they’ve won 3 straight,
I wouldn’t bet the farm on them tweaking anything.
Even with reuniting the old lines, the Habs will be hard pressed to win if they
don’t change their game plan, especially on the penalty kill, where the Flyers
put the nail to the coffin in Game 4. The Habs’ powerplay at least
statistically has rebounded, operating at over a 22% success rate (4/18) in the
series. The biggest key though may be the strangest one, and that’s
hitting the net more often. Despite outshooting the Flyers 142-86, the
Habs have also had another 83 blocked, with 64 more that missed the net
entirely; combined, that exceeds the total that have actually gotten to Flyers’
netminder Martin Biron.
So far, everyone in Montreal is saying the right things, that they still have
confidence and that they can still win the series. Come puck drop on
Saturday, it will be time to put their money where their mouth is; otherwise, it
will be a long offseason wondering "what if?"
UFA forward Fabian Brunnstrom will be in Montreal for Saturday’s contest,
and will take in the game along with speaking to Canadiens management.
J.P. Barry, his agent, said Thursday that currently Brunnstrom is mulling over a
trio of teams to sign with, Detroit, Dallas, and Montreal. He also noted
that several other teams are trying to make a late push for the 23-year old
Swede. Barry suggested that a decision could come as soon as next week.
Fans, if you want to send a message about what type of city Montreal is to play
in, this may very well be the perfect time.