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ECF Game 1: Destiny versus Destiny

Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1
#8 Montreal Canadiens at #7 Philadelphia Flyers
Series tied 0-0
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
Radio: 610 WIP (internet stream here), XM 204, SIRIUS 208
Get the Montreal perspective at Habs Eyes On The Prize
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The Montreal Canadiens and their fans believe that their team is one of destiny. When you knock off the two best teams in the Eastern Conference in seven games each, it's a typical assumption at which to arrive. But what happens when that team faces off against another with the same feelings of destiny? What happens when that team faces off against a team that's made perhaps one of the biggest, most improbable comebacks in sports history? What happens when two teams of apparent destiny collide?

We'll find out over the next two weeks, and it all begins tonight in Philadelphia. Yes, in Philadelphia. At the Wachovia Center. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It's still the 2009-10 season. Believe it, everybody.

The Flyers completed that unbelievable comeback less than 48 hours ago, and as they prepare to take on a new foe in the Habs tonight, we have to ask the simple question: is the lack of rest going to hurt or help the Flyers? And will the extra rest help or hurt the Canadiens? That's not a question we'll have an answer to until at least the end of the first period tonight, but if I had to put money down, I'd say that rolling right into the next round off of such an emotional high is a very good thing for the Flyers.

The biggest obstacle for the Flyers to overcome tonight and as the series continues will be goaltender Jaroslav Halak. He shut down two of the most potent offenses in the East in rounds one and two, and he did it almost single-handedly. So how can the Flyers get to him? Well, luckily, they have experience beating a hot goaltender in Tuukka Rask.

Halak has played a lot of hockey and the Flyers will have to wear him down the same way they did with Rask, who was very human by the end of the series with Boston. The Flyers are better defensive teams than both Washington and Pittsburgh, and if they can effectively shut down Mike Cammalleri, they shouldn't have too much trouble shuting out the rest of the Habs offense.

On the blueline, Montreal has received unexpected contributions from P.K. Subban in the absence of Andrei Markov and Paul Mara, but they're nowhere near as solid on defense as the Flyers are. The only real edge the Canadiens have over the Flyers, in my estimation, is in the net.

If the Flyers can continue to play excellent defense in front of Michael Leighton, they shouldn't have too much of a problem. But no matter what happens, this series is going to be incredible. Both teams are on missions, and when you have determination going against determination, you're destined to get a hell of a playoff series.

Game thread tonight at 6 PM ET.

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