However you look at it, we are witnessing a bludgeoning. The Flyers are the walking, talking, skating, winning definition of "role reversal," and it feels just fine -- for now.
They beat the Montreal Canadiens again last night, 3-0, at the Wachovia Center. They lead the NHL Eastern Conference finals by two games to none, with Game 3 on Thursday night in Montreal. They are two wins away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup finals since 1997. Things could not be going better, except for the fact that they really aren't playing all that dynamically, except on their power play. In fact, they are looking at a mirror image of their second-round playoff series against Boston.
In that one, the Flyers really played pretty well against the Bruins, and got better from game to game, and still managed to lose Games 1, 2 and 3. In this series, it is the Canadiens who are getting better but also have nothing to show for it.
Still and all, this is a pounding. Going back to the first period of Game 7 against Boston, the Flyers have now scored 13 unanswered goals -- four against the Bruins, six against the Canadiens in Game 1, and three last night. They are beyond opportunistic, too -- their first two goals in Game 2 were scored in only 13 shots.
And even though the Canadiens did have their moments, and Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton deserves a lot of the credit for keeping them in the game at the start -- especially in the middle of the first period, when he made a series of in-close stops during a Montreal power play -- Montreal has really had trouble creating any kind of sustained or effective traffic in front of the Flyers' goal. Their unwillingness or inability to play that kind of game is killing them right now.
As for the Flyers, they scored one dirty goal -- by Simon Gagne in front, on a rebound kept alive by Ville Leino -- sandwiched by a Danny Briere rocket from the circle in the first period and a third-period Leino shot that somehow got through the glove of Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak -- who has not looked exactly otherwordly in either game of the series.
You wonder if the Canadiens will be able to find some solace in this, someplace. Because they did do some good things. But their refusal to do the hard things makes you wonder. As for the Flyers, they seem to love doing the hard things.