After the Montreal Canadiens knocked out the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the 2020 NHL playoffs, many of the applause went to Carey Price in the net. While it deserves praise, many pundits and fans believed the Canadiens didn’t stand a chance against the Philadelphia Flyers unless Price was like a god between the pipes. Two things are true with that after Friday’s game: Price has also been out of this world through two games in this series, and also doesn’t need to be in Friday’s 5-0 shutout.
It seems odd to say given Price’s shutout, but the Flyers rarely seemed to put Price in a dangerous position. Even their few good chances were overlooked by the Montreal goalkeeper. He was mostly excellent, but according to the Flyers’ play, he was not the most important factor in Montreal to get a huge win.
From the start, Montreal dominated possession of the puck. It took Philadelphia 17 minutes to register a shot on goal, and meanwhile, Montreal had racked up a two-goal lead, and would add another early in the next period. In short, the Habs attack came to play in all facets.
Looking at the table above, at no point did the Flyers mount a threatening attack, even from a distance, as Montreal jumped into the game and never stepped back on the accelerator.
It was the best we’ve seen the Canadiens in a long time, and certainly in this postseason. Their Achilles heel was a lack of elite finishing talent, and in Friday’s game they simply carried the Flyers like a river erodes its banks. Sooner or later things fall apart, and in the Habs case, it was in the form of goals against Carter Hart and Brian Elliott.
A saying I’ve said a number of times recently is that “goalies can’t score” when it comes to Price having to do so much on his own. Yesterday at least he didn’t have to. Montreal had always recorded impressive shooting numbers this season, and now they may be starting to find the back of the net.
The Canadiens can win this series against the Flyers, and they can do it without relying solely on their franchise keeper.