The pre-series talk focused on how much of a factor Jaroslav Halak would be. Yet in Game 1, Michael Leighton earned his first career playoff shutout while Halak didn’t even make it through the second period. To put it simply, the Flyers mercilessly pounded the Canadiens 6-0.
Philadelphia Flyers 6, Montreal Canadiens 0
Flyers lead series 1-0
Before Montreal fans riot (or riot a lot?), it’s important to note that the Canadiens are now accustomed to having their backs against the wall. Halak has been pulled from a game once in each of the team’s three series and Montreal also took a considerable beating in Game 1 of the Pittsburgh series. They’re not unlike roaches; maybe they don’t look pretty but they’re awfully tough to kill.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a stark contrast between Leighton’s game (28 saves, 0 goals allowed) and Halak’s meltdown (4 goals allowed, only 10 saves before he was relieved by Carey Price). Despite the fact that the Canadiens had two extra days of rest, the Flyers came with far more energy and scored early and often. You can’t blame the game only on Halak; his team failed him on many occasions.
Simon Gagne and Danny Briere are quietly rounding into elite form, giving Philadelphia a nice rotation of reliable scorers. Combine their scoring with the all-world defense of Chris Pronger and it’s looking like the Flyers are putting things together at the perfect time.
Again, don’t count out those pesky Habs, though. This series is far from over, even if Game 1 qualifies as a brutal reality check.