I see no reason why the “season of Halak” will end before a berth in the Stanley Cup final is secured by the Canadiens.
Jaroslav Halak has been a world-beater in net through two rounds of playoffs for Montreal. So with no disrespect to the Flyers, who showed the greatest amount of heart and determination the NHL has seen in decades, in upsetting the Bruins after going down 0-3. But the Canadiens to me are the better bet to get out of the Eastern Conference finals.
It’s not just Halak that shifts the odds in the Habs’ favor. Unlike the Bruins, the Habs can counter Philadelphia’s size advantage with a great dose of team speed led by Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta up front. That should leave Chris Pronger, Scott Hartnell and Philly’s other giants either in the dust of in the penalty box.
Hal Gill and Josh Gorges have to use their abilities as a shutdown pair to make short work of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Compared to that, stopping Mike Richards and Simon Gagne should be a walk in the park. And Jaroslav Spacek’s return has given the Habs a second pair their can rely.
The Flyers will win if … Michael Leighton makes all the routine saves, they stay away from foolish penalties and their top four defensemen are able to contain Montreal’s flying “smurfs.”
The Canadiens will win if … Halak stays amazing, they don’t let the agitating of Daniel Carcillo and the Flyers’ other pests get to them, and they keep the Flyers’ second and third lines from producing at a first-line rate of effectivness.
My pick: Montreal in 7. It certainly feels like 1993 to me, and that means the Canadiens are the team of destiny.