PHILADELPHIA - MAY 18: Scott Gomez #91 of the Montreal Canadiens handles the puck against Braydon Coburn #5 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
It's been the concensus over the course of this Eastern Conference Final series: the Flyers, despite outscoring the Montreal Canadiens 9-0, are not playing strong hockey. They're allowing the Habs to dictate the flow of the game, they're routinely getting out shot and its only a matter of time before Mike Cammalleri and company break through.
But allow me to present an alternate theory. The Flyers are playing just fine.
I should say that this comment on the site from a night ago is the impetus for my thinking on this subject. Of course, it goes without saying that the Flyers would love to be controlling play a bit more and they'd love to be on their heels a bit less. But is it possible that the Flyers are limiting their shots a bit on purpose?
They watched Pittsburgh and Washington dump buckets of shots on Jaroslav Halak in the first two rounds. He came up huge every time. They saw the Habs block shot after shot in those series' as well, almost getting into a rhythm with the way they were routinely shutting out the Caps and Pens advances.
So here come the Flyers, obviously hoping for a different fate than those two teams suffered. They decide to be a little more patient in their slot selection, not allowing Halak and the Montreal defense to get into a groove. Meanwhile, in their own defensive end, where they know the Canadiens small forwards aren't willing to get dirty, they play simple, systematic defense.
They allow low-percentage chances, clear everything and anything out of Michael Leighton's sight, and just let their goalie make the routine saves. Just very solid, what's become typical Flyers defense in these playoffs. As a result, they appear very opportunistic on offense and very, very stifling on defense. Oh, and their goalie gets mentioned in the same sentence as Bernie Parent.
Is it the plan? Well, I'm really just thinking out loud here, but if it is, it's clearly working.