The death-defying act that the Canadiens had going for them has finally caught up to them in a big way. The Habs were downed in Philadelphia in Game Five, offically eliminating them from post-season contention. It was a pretty good run... no wait, an excellent run of taking down some of the Eastern Conference powerhouses, but when it was all said and done, coming back a third time was not in the cards for them, because it really looked like they didn't have enough gas in the tank.
Much like Game Four, the Canadiens did come out with some pretty good speed and made use of some key turnovers, played the game I thought they should in the preview, but that only lasted for so long. A Brian Gionta goal did materialize from the early pressure for a 1-0 lead, but that was not going to last for very long. Gionta's goal came within the first minute of the game, but then a clearing attempt on a Flyers penalty kill turned into a trainwreck in the Canadiens' zone a few minutes later and Mike Richards tied the game up with a shortie. Even at a tie game early on, it was really an uphill battle for the Canadiens, who quickly found themselves down two early in the 2nd period after goals from Arron Asham and Jeff Carter scored 1:24 apart before the 5-minute mark. For the rest of the 2nd period, there wasn't a great deal of fight and even after a goal seven minutes into the 3rd period by Scott Gomez, it really didn't like the Habs were going to push through. An empty-netter by Jeff Carter sealed the deal late and the Philadelphia Flyers are set for a date with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
A lot of credit really does have to go to the Philadelphia Flyers defense for managing to shut down the speed and creativity of the Montreal Canadiens offense, as the Habs proved they were very dangerous, especially in their transition game against the Capitals and Penguins. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn were two pool players that didn't register a point in the five games, while I only have 1 point for Mike Cammalleri, 2 points for Brian Gionta and 3 points for both Scott Gomez and Roman Hamrlik. Those are some crazy numbers for the Canadiens and I haven't seen the blocked shot totals for the Flyers between the five games, but I bet it challenges the number of saves Michael Leighton had to make in the series.
So, as for eliminations in the pool, we all know that there are not very many to be made, so I won't go on and on about them. The Habs were not supposed to make it out of the first round or even be in the playoffs, by the number of selections they had in the pool, so making it this far really shrunk the overall numbers through three rounds of the playoffs, but I think we can all be satisified in knowing that there should be a good number of points in the Finals.
The standings will be updated to reflect the scoring after Game Five, but I will go into more detail about that in my series preview. All I will say is that Scott managed to extend his lead to 4 points and 12 teams have 6 players left going into the Finals... should be a good finish!