Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Flyers, Biron Best Habs in Game 3

For all of those years, I saw the New Jersey Devils come into Philadelphia and kick the Flyers' asses with a French Canadian goaltender named "Martin", I always wondered what it would be like to have our dominant French Canadian goaltender named "Martin".

Well, last night, I found out, as the best player on the ice for both teams was none other than Flyers goaltender Martin Biron, as the Flyers beat the Habs 3 - 2 to take a 2 games to 1 lead in their best of 7 series.

Biron's performance could not have been more timely. The Flyers gave up 8 power plays, including a solid 2 minutes of 5 on 3 power play time and a full 5 minute power play assessed to Derian Hatcher for boarding.

At the other end of the rink, Habs rookie goalie Carey Price was shaky to say the least. Scottie Upshall beat him pretty clean on his goal, but the Mike Richards shorthanded goal was one Price should have had and the goal seemed to suck the life right out of the Canadiens. When a fat rebound kicked out to RJ Umberger for the 3rd goal of the game, you had a feeling that maybe the Canadiens were considering pulling Price, which they eventually would do.

Let's be clear: This was, by far, not a perfect game by the Flyers. I thought the officiating was a bit one-sided, but the Flyers need to play a little smarter. The Derian Hatcher play is a perfect example. While I don't believe the play warranted a full 5 minute major (should have been a double minor for boarding), Hatcher should have never put himself in that position to begin with. Lasse Kukkonen took two bad penalties in the latter stages of the 2nd and 3rd period. Because of all the penalties, the penalty killers saw a lot of ice time and you can never get into an offensive rhythm when you're killing penalties the whole game.

Did you notice?

- The play where Steve Downie allegedly tripped goaltender Carey Price was a good example of how Downie cannot catch a break of any sort from the officials. Price clearly flopped and threw his own mask off in embellishing the call and it should have been called a dive. The penalty calls should have been evened out on that play, but it was just another example of shaky officiating.

- Montreal definitely had a territorial advantage as the game wore on. The Flyers were outshot 17 - 2 in the 3rd period. Yikes. They need to tighten that up going into Game 4.

- Has any Flyer been the recipient of more good bounces in the first 3 games of this series than RJ Umberger? That second period rebound, after a Jeff Carter shot, came right onto his stick for the eventual goal. Carter couldn't have passed it to him that well.

- Another strong game from Braydon Coburn.

At the game:

- Don't know how it sounded on TV, but the "Marty! Marty!" chants were real loud in the arena. After Upshall scored, you couldn't hear Lou Nolan announce who scored it was so loud.

- Not a ton of Montreal fans, but a few. A couple of idiots in my section brought a sign with them all the way from Montreal, which was in French, so none of us knew what it said. To bring a sign down to a hockey game in another country, it had better say something pretty damned profound. After they put their sign up a couple of times, the fans behind them (most of which are regulars in that section) yelled for them to keep the sign down.

- Saw a good number of Montreal fans leave before the end of the game. Weak!

- The heavy rains before the game put a damper on the pregame tent activities, which was a shame.

- PLEASE stop booing the Canadian national anthem! The Flyers anticipated this, and had Danny Briere record a message asking the fans to respect both anthems, but a bunch of knuckleheads booed anyway. It makes no sense to boo that anthem, considering the majority of the Flyers are, in fact, Canadian. Also -- the "USA, USA" chant when the officials were sorting out the penalties when Price flopped like a fish was sort of infantile. We aren't fighting WWIII our there. This isn't the Iranian national team. You want jingoism? Go rent "Miracle".

- They did the "God Bless America" thing with Lauren Hart and Kate Smith again last night. They are in danger of making it not so special.

- Harkening back to the last series, where a Washington Post reporter said the orange clad Flyer fans all looked like security at a Megadeth concert, the Flyers got Megadeth's Dave Mustaine to record a little speech to rile up the crowd. It worked...and you can probably expect to see it again in Game 4 if you're going.
(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)