Flyers-Canadiens, Game 2: three things to look for

The Flyers scored four goals on Jaroslav Halak in Game 1 by crowding the front of the net. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

A playoff series exhibits its heartbeat from the moment the puck is dropped for the first time in Game 1. But Game 2 is when a series acquires its soul.

With that, three things to look for in Flyers-Canadiens, Game 2:

1) The overall importance: This has been said before but it bears repeating, that Game 1 is action and Game 2 is reaction -- and, in the end, Game 2 (and, really, all of the even-numbered games before Game 7) tend to mean the most. This year's Stanley Cup playoffs seem fairly typical that way. In 12 series so far, the team that won Game 1 ended up winning the series only four times (33 percent). The team that won Game 2 ended up winning the series seven times (58 percent).

2) Halak redux: Trying to figure out Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak, in the game after getting yanked, there are two examples upon which to draw. In the Canadiens' first series against Washington, Halak allowed six goals in an overtime loss in Game 2, was pulled after allowing three goals in Game 3, didn't start Game 4, and then was spectacular in Game 5 and thereafter. In the second round against Pittsburgh, Halak was pulled from a 6-3 defeat in Game 1 and then played very well the rest of the series. All of which suggests that Halak will be a pretty focused character in Game 2.

3) Traffic cops: The series, as most everyone has already gathered, will be decided by the the defensemen. Specifically, it will be decided by their ability to clear enough space in front of either Halak or Michael Leighton so that they can do their jobs. You cannot stop what you cannot see, not without a lucky horse shoe hidden among your equipment. Leighton made reference after Game 1 to his ability to see over some of the smaller Montreal forwards, a signficant difference from the previous series against Boston. And everybody can witness the success that Chris Pronger has had in keeping order in front of the Flyers' goal. As for the other end, in an analysis for, former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock offered this advice to his old team: "Keep 'parking early' in front of the Montreal net...Everyone talks about going to the net. The Flyers parked themselves early at the net in Sunday's game before some plays even developed. They stayed there, so Halak couldn't pick up the shots, especially the angles of the shots. Success this time of year is about being at the net early. The Flyers scored on angle shots in Game 1, the puck went through two or three guys (players from both teams) before Halak could see it."