NHL trends for 5-20-10 . . .


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Flyers now on serious roll, winning last six games after falling behind in last series 3-0 to Boston. Philly scored nine goals on just 48 shots so far in series, going 4-10 in 15:47 on power play (Canadiens are 0-8 on the power play, in 13:22 with man advantage). Montreal was down 3-2 in last series, 3-1 in first round but won both series, so they're not out of this yet, but it would be nice if they scored a goal first. Flyers are 4-1 on the road so far in the playoffs.





7:00 PM


Philadelphia is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Philadelphia is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Montreal
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Montreal's last 12 games
Montreal is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing Philadelphia




What bettors need to know

Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens

Who is that masked man?

In a playoff filled with amazing stories, Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton might be the best one.

Leighton, a journeyman goalie who has bounced between six different teams in five years, is making the most of his opportunity. With an injury to starter Brian Boucher in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Leighton was thrust into action and has answered the call.

He’s won all four of his postseason starts, including two against the Canadiens in this conference final. Most recently, Leighton turned away all 30 of Montreal’s shots in a 3-0 victory in Game 2 at the Wachovia Center Tuesday – his second straight shutout of the series.

Leighton, who has a 0.87 goals against average in the playoffs, tied Flyers legend Bernie Parent for the team record for consecutive postseason shutouts. He also has the second-longest scoreless streak in Philadelphia history at 165 minutes and 50 seconds. Boucher has the team record of 184:45 set back in the 2000 NHL playoffs.

"A shutout to me, it means a little bit," Leighton told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "but the win means a lot more to me. You know, we could have won, 3-1, and I would have been just as happy."

Leighton heads to Montreal for just his second road start of the postseason Thursday. He was solid in support during Game 4 of the conference semifinals in Boston, stopping 14 shots to preserve a 4-0 shutout after Boucher was injured. His worst appearance of the playoffs was a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Beantown in Game 7, allowing three goals on 25 shots.

This season, Leighton was 0-3 in his three away starts and posted a 4.74 GAA over five road appearances.

Helpless Habs

After two grueling seven-game series with two of the NHL’s top clubs, it appears the Montreal Canadiens are running on empty in the Eastern Conference final.

The Habs haven’t scored in the series, getting stumped on 58 shots on goal. Montreal has come out strong in the first two games, out-shooting the Flyers 29-12 in the first period. But, like a heavy-handed boxer throwing heymakers, the Canadiens appear to punch themselves out by the final frame.

Montreal has mustered just nine shots in the third period including just four scoring chances in the final period of Tuesday’s Game 2 defeat. Scoring threats Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, who have combined for 19 goals this postseason, had a total of shots between them in Game 1 and were denied on 12 combined shots in Game 2.

"Tonight I thought we did a lot better job," Cammalleri told the National Post, obviously frustrated. "I thought we were pretty good. I don't know what else to say about that."

The reality is that Montreal is not a good offensive team. The Canadiens managed to find goals in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but have sunk back into the role of a squad that finished 25th in the NHL in scoring this season. The Flyers have also done a good job limiting their penalties and nullifying the Habs’ biggest weapon, their power play.

Pros and Conns

If the balloting for the Conn Smythe Trophy, the NHL playoff MVP, went out today, Philadelphia forward Daniel Briere would be at the top of many voters’ lists.

Briere has exploded in the past two series, scoring a goal in four straight games and totaling 18 points in the playoffs so far.

Another MVP candidate would be gritty forward Simon Gagne, who has sparked the team since returning from injury. He has six goals in the last six games including scores in both conference final contests.

Adding to both players’ red-hot play is a chance to do it in front of family and friends for the next two games. Briere hails from Gatineau, Quebec while Gagne is a native of Ste. Foy. Both grew up dreaming of playing for the Canadiens – not crushing them.

"It's a lot, you know, it's a lot of emotion for me -- and I think Danny (Briere) and Claude (Giroux) -- to be able to face that team," Gagne told the National Post. "Now you've got everybody back home watching you. You've got your friends, you've got your family, and it's a lot of people watching you on TV because it's going to be televised back home. It's really special."




Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens

After a superhero-like performance in the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak has looked simply ordinary in two losses to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Halak, who stumped the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, has given up seven goals on 37 shots this series and was even given the hook after allowing four goals on 14 shots in Game 1. He watched three pucks go by in a 3-0 loss in Game 2, leaving many hockey bettors thinking the tank has run dry for the Habs postseason savior.

"Every series is a different series, so right now we are facing a different team than we faced in the first round and second round," Halak told the CBC following Game 1. "So every team plays different hockey, and we just need to make a little bit adjustment in our penalty killing and our system. I think if we do that we should be OK."

Halak has played better at home in the playoffs. He’s 3-2 in five starts inside the Bell Centre with a 2.24 goals against average and a save percentage of .939. He won his last two home contests, blanking the Penguins for just five goals on 72 total shots.

Bettors should expect a return to form Thursday night and a potential goaltending duel with Philadelphia netminder Michael Leighton.





PHILADELPHIA: 1-7 SU off BB games allowing 1 or 0 goals
MONTREAL: 19-10 SU off BB losses by 3+ goals

** (TC) Denotes Time Change


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