Another night of the NHL Conference Finals, and we got wins by the same teams again and in similar fashions. The Philadelphia Flyers again got bodies around Halak and the Montreal Canadiens crease, and got a 3-0 win to take a 2-0 series lead. The Flyers got their powerplay going again, resulting in the first two goals of the game. Add in one very soft goal and a second game of zero offense by Montreal, and you have a 2-0 series lead for Philly as this series now heads north of the border. Montreal is going to try and regain some composure and try to find what was probably the most feared powerplay after the first two rounds. Hopefully their fans and being home give them something, because if not then the Flyers and whoever is in net next week will be headed to the Stanley Cup Finals. Some guys by the names of Gomez, Gionta, Plekanec, and Cammalleri need to start showing up. Zero offensive output normal equals about zero chance of winning. Now Philly, so far so good with the game plan. Get traffic and pucks at the crease, use the speed of guys like Briere to do whatever is needed to get goals. Leighton is playing closer to what we would have expected from Halak, not from someone who is in net because the Flyers goalies seem to get injured as much as Peter Forsberg. But Leighton has .969 save percentage, and in the 5 games he has played he has looked amazing in net. Do not know what this will do for him long-term, but if he does not get a shot at more starts or at least keeping the job when others come back then it is a shame. If he takes this team to the Cup finals after all of this, then he will have done a lot more then I could have predicted.
Now out West…or at least a little further west in Chicago, game 3 of the West Finals will be Friday night. The Chicago Blackhawks took apart the San Jose Sharks and kept it going on the road by winning 4-2 to take a 2-0 series lead over the Sharks. The Blackhawks did exactly what I predicted they would try to do and got bodies in front of the San Jose net to get re-directs and traffic. The top line got two deflections in front by Toews and big Byfuglien in the second period and got another one by Bolland in the 3rd to put it away.
The Sharks are now cornered, as the series now shifts to Chicago. Even a split in the windy city would still give the B’hawks a 3-1 lead heading back to San Jose, and Chicago is the best road team there is right now. The only thing I can see that San Jose can use is that the B’hawks are better on the road then at home. It starts Friday night. If the Sharks want any chance in this series, they have find their offense and be disciplined and get a win in game 3. Get the bodies out from in front of their own crease, do not give Chicago extra powerplays, and start capitalizing on their own chances. Sure I am rooting for the Blackhawks, but I still look at both sides of this and want to see good hockey above all else. For Chicago, they really just need to duplicate the effort of the first two games and make San Jose find a way to stop them. The pressure is all on the Sharks.