Habs superBowl over Flyers

Given the circumstances, we should have expected a win. Both teams were playing back-to-back games, but the Flyers played the previous night in Philly while the Habs were home for their afternoon win over the B's. Also, while Montreal was *finally* healthy, the Flyers have been decimated by injuries. They were missing three centres (Primeau, Nedved and a guy named Forsberg), three defensemen (Desjardins, Johnsson, Therein) and a horse (Branko Radivojevic). To top it all off, Mike Rathje left the game in the 2nd period with - what else - a groin pull.

Nevertheless, les boys can take pride in
how the game was won. It was the most I've seen them outplay an opponent this season. After many years of being dominated by John Leclair er - the Flyers, they've turned the tables by winning all three matchups this year.

The Bell Centre crowd demanded to learn the identity of the masked man who had replaced Jose Theodore as they chanted: "Who, Eh? Who, Eh?" Or maybe they were chanting, "Huet! Huet!" I'm not really sure. It was, in fact, Cristobal Huet posting back-to-back shutouts in back-to-back afternoon games. Despite Huet's outstanding play and the confidence he gives the team, we have not seen the last of Theo. For better or for worse, Theo's contract dictates that he is the Big Man on this team. That gives him way more benefit of the doubt than he deserves. By all reasonable standards on the ice, he should be relegated to backup duty for the remainder of the year (or at least until Huet falters badly). Let him try to win the #1 job at camp next fall.


In the most recent issue of The Hockey News, there is a little piece on the strength of each team's remaining schedule, based on the points-per-game earned by their remaining opponents. The league average is 1.11. Montreal's opponents average 1.07, giving them the sixth easiest remaining schedule in the league (by this measure).

There appears to be a six team race for the last three playoff spots in the East. Not to discount the possibility of an Islander surge or a tragic slump by a top team, but it will probably boil down to Tampa, New Jersey, Toronto, Montreal, Atlanta and Boston (standings gleaned from TSN.ca):

According to the THN standard, Tampa has a relatively easy schedule remaining. The Devils, Thrashers and Leafs have average schedules, and Boston faces the toughest path.
I've gone a little further, and broken down the number of home/road games and remaining games vs. the other five teams competing for a playoff spot:

Their destiny is still in their own hands: the Habbies not only have a softer schedule, they also have more home games and home games against the competition. Of course, having more games remaining also means a denser schedule... There are still four games against the Sabres and three vs. the Islanders.

Immediately following the Olympic break, Montreal will venture out on a six game, ten day road trip. If you must go on a monster road trip, I guess that's the time to do it - right after a two week break. Mark your calendars: game #5 on March 7 worries me. It is the second in two nights, and it is in Toronto to face the Leafs who should be well-rested. Given how the last big road trip worked out, the stars appear to be lining up for a backbreaker for the Habs and a big boost for the boys in blue.


Worth reading

Now this is truly in-depth. The Hockey Rodent provides a
complete dissertation on Petr Prucha's MCL sprain, including an animated GIF dissecting the anatomy of the right knee...

"...Stevenson's right leg applies lateral force (red arrow) to Prucha's upper fibula which bends the knee joint sideways, stretching the MCL (green) to the point it tears slightly. Yellow lines are to emphasize the sideways (unnatural) bending. "
Japers' Rink has a most excellent account of what must have been a most excellent experience - watching the home team beat the Leafs from the owner's box.


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