Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Three things to look for in Flyers' Game 3

Three things.

Three things to look for in Flyers' Game 3

The Flyers have been more disciplined since being the most-penalized team in the first round of the playoffs. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
The Flyers have been more disciplined since being the most-penalized team in the first round of the playoffs. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

After watching the Flyers' morning skate at the Bell Centre -- including Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere, both of whom will remain inactive for now -- there were a couple of things people seemed to be talking about. Three things, then:

1) The start. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has been unhappy with the first period of both games in this series, both shutout victories for his team. Game 3 presents an interesting challenge in that the Flyers will simultaneously be trying to play better and also trying to hang on against the anticipated onslaught from the desperate Canadiens and their legendary fans. It's a little bit of a funny balance. "We have to make sure we keep it simple in the first few minutes," said Simon Gagne, one of the French Canadians on the team for whom this building is a church. "Then we just have to play our game...In the regular season, it's special to jump on the ice here. In the playoffs, it will be more special. It's going to be very loud. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of emotion."

2) The whistles. There is one sure way to open the door to a comeback in this series by the Canadiens and everyone knows it. As Scott Hartnell said, "We really have to stay out of the penalty box." After being the most-penalized team in the first round of the playoffs, the Flyers have been much, much more disciplined since then. At 11.3 penalty minutes per game, they are ranked seventh out of the 16 playoff teams, a very good spot for them. It matters every game, but that discipline could really matter tonight, especially at the start. Because, as Hartnell said, "This building is going to be off its rocker."

3) The matchups. The Flyers, it seems, have tried to get either defenseman Chris Pronger, or center Mike Richards, or both, out against Montreal sniper Mike Cammalleri whenever they can -- although, truth be told, Laviolette has not performed any great gymnastics to do it and has seemingly been happy enough if Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn have been out there instead of Pronger and Matt Carle. Well, now we get to see what Canadiens coach Jacques Martin wants and what he can get with the last change. Another question: does Montreal maneuver its top defense pair (Hal Gill and Josh Georges) so that it is out mostly against Richards and Gagne, or against Danny Briere/Ville Leino/Hartnell?

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Daily News Executive Sports Editor
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About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Executive Sports Editor
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