After the Montreal Canadiens stunned the Pittsburgh Penguins to qualify for the 2020 NHL Playoffs, many of the plaudits went to Carey Price in net. While it’s deserved praise, many pundits and fans alike thought that the Canadiens stood no chance against the Philadelphia Flyers unless Price was god-like between the pipes. Two things are true with that after Friday’s game: Price has been out of this world through two games of this series as well, and also didn’t need to be in Friday’s 5-0 shutout.
It sounds strange to say given Price’s shutout, but the Flyers rarely seemed to put Price in a position of danger. Even their few good chances were casually brushed aside by the Montreal netminder. He was mostly great, but based on the play of the Flyers, he wasn’t the biggest factor in Montreal securing a huge victory.
Right from the outset, Montreal dominated possession of the puck. It took Philadelphia 17 minutes to register a shot on net, and in that time Montreal had built up a two-goal lead, and would add another early in the next period. In short, the Habs’ offence came to play in all facets.
Looking at the above chart, at no point in time did the Flyers mount an even remotely threatening attack, while Montreal jumped into the game and never took their foot off the gas.
This was the best we’ve seen the Canadiens in a long time, and certainly in this post-season. Their Achilles’ heel has been a lack of elite finishing talent, and in Friday’s game they just wore down the Flyers like a river erodes its banks. Sooner or later things break down, and in the case of the Habs it was in the form of goals against Carter Hart and Brian Elliott.
A saying I’ve said multiple times recently is that “goalies can’t score goals” in regard to Price having to do so much on his own. Yesterday at least, he ddin’t have to. Montreal had always put up impressive shot numbers during the 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 goalie.