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Can the Canadiens keep this up against the Penguins?

We’ll soon find out, won’t we.

Can’t help but tap your stick to the Habs.  What an impressive all-around performance in their huge upset over the Capitals, from containing Alex Ovechkin, to once again exposing the defensive fraud that is Mike Green, to the incredible stonewalling from Jaroslav Halak.

But unfortunately for Montreal, they don’t award any bonus points for it.  For as impressive as they played against the Caps, they must do it all over again, and this time it’s against the Champs.

Let’s take a look at some of the key points (I’m a little rushed, excuse the brevity):

- Indirectly, I believe Montreal’s upset win over the Caps should ensure that the Penguins won’t be on their heels as they were during Game One in the Ottawa series.  The Habs will surely attempt to ride the momentum of their win over the Caps into Game One tonight, and the Penguins know that.  That should lead to a un-flat group of Penguins.

- The Habs blocked a ton of shots in the Caps series, 182 of them in the seven games.  Look for the Habs to try to continue more of the same, while the Penguins attempt to counteract that with their passing.  In addition, many have said, and I agree, that the Caps relied on perimeter shots from the points too much.  Look for the Penguins to try to get the puck down low and get it on net.

- Going along with the blocked shot theme, the Caps were a horrendous 1-for-33 on the power play against the Habs’ penalty kill.  The Penguins had a good 25% (7-for-28) power play against Ottawa, but they should get a tougher test against the Habs’ PK.  Conversely, the Pens’ PK was a mediocre 68.2% against Ottawa, albeit with 2 of the Sens’ 7 power play goals being 5-on-3.  They’ll be matching up against a Habs’ power play that went 6-for-20 against Washington.

- Hal Gill is duplicating his defensive performance of a year ago, at least so far.  Now he and his defensive teammates will attempt to continue their strong play against the Penguins.  It will be interesting to see how the Habs will matchup against Crosby and Malkin, similar how to the Sens had Phillips and Volchenkov going against Crosby.

- Last but certainly not least, the wildcard simply has to be Halak.  If he continues on his white hot streak, there’s absolutely no reason to think the Habs couldn’t upset the Penguins in the same manner they just beat the Caps.  The question comes down to whether he’ll stay hot, or whether he used all his bullets up against the Caps.  The Penguins will surely attempt to pummel Halak with puck after puck.  Statistics alone suggest that Halak’s 15 minutes of fame are probably up.  Aren’t they ??

It’s going to be an interesting series, from the Penguins four French-Canadians going against their boyhood team to Malkin’s parents flying into town and renewing their celebrity status.

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  Tags: montreal+canadiens, nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins

Comments

Russian Rocket's avatar

In addition, many have said, and I agree, that the Caps relied on perimeter shots from the points too much.  Look for the Penguins to try to get the puck down low and get it on net.

I think this is the key.  The Caps managed alot of shots, but how many were harmless wrist shots from near the blue line and the boards.  Penguins need to drive the net, cause traffic, and get in shooting lanes to block Halak’s vision.  Get to him early and it will save much frustration and effort.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 04/30/10 at 12:46 PM ET

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I usually complain about how patient the Penguins are with the puck and often wish that they would shoot more.  But that’s usually against the Brian Elliotts of the world.

Against the Canadiens, I want them to be patient.  Cycle.  Work the puck behind the net.  Make the extra pass.  Fake shots and then pass or shoot.

The biggest thing is that the Penguins have a mentality and a willingness to do the things a team needs to do to win close games.  They’re not starting out with the idea that anything less than 5 goals on the board is a failure, they’re simply out to win games.

Posted by HNBCTB on 04/30/10 at 12:59 PM ET

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I agree.  The Pens will have to grind it out to get goals.  Get traffic in front of the net and go from there.  If it doesn’t work for a period or a game, keep at it.  Hopefully they can make Gill look like Sutton did.  It will be interesting to see what Montreal does with PK Subban as well. They did a good job of limiting his ice time in games 6 and 7.  Hopefully the Pens can exploit him if he is out there. 

I think tonight’s game is huge.  With only a day off between games for the Habs, there’s no reason why the Pens shouldn’t be able to wear them down tonight.  Conversely, despite the fatigue on the Habs, a win tonight gives them confidence and hope.  It’s not a make or break, but a huge one nonetheless.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 04/30/10 at 01:08 PM ET

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The Biggest Determining factor in this series will be the Position of the On/Off switch

Will the Pens have switched it to off seeing that the Caps, Devils & Sabres are done & only Have the Canadiens,Flyers & Bruins left

Or will that scare them enough into keeping the switch in the On position ??

Posted by Evilpens on 04/30/10 at 01:24 PM ET

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I don’t think I could watch many more games like that.  If this catches on they will just start stacking guys in front of the net.  BORING the Capitals insanely did the same wrong things over and over again.  Pittsburgh, I hope, will bury the Canadiens and drive this horrible playing style out of the league.  It may have won but it is unwatchable, like freezing the ball years ago in a basketball game.

Posted by 13 user names from New York on 04/30/10 at 01:39 PM ET

Moq's avatar

Can the Canadiens keep this up against the Penguins?

No.

An excellent goalie surrounded by five players in turtle formation shouldn’t be enough to advance deep in the playoffs in this day and age. As much as I liked the elimination of Washington, it was also a sad day for (Canadian) hockey to see a O6 team play like a bargain priced expansion team in their first playoff series. Washington didn’t lose to the neutral zone trap, they lost to the defensive zone trap. I believe the Penguins are clever and experienced enough to avoid the mistakes made by Washington.

All the usual virtues of shooting the puck, having traffic in front of the goaltender, and working hard around the net, should accomplish the task of unsettling Montreals defensive “system”.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 04/30/10 at 02:05 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

Washington didn’t lose to the neutral zone trap, they lost to the defensive zone trap.

Great observation Moq.

Good piece Tony. BTW, brevity will be excused this time, just this time. wink

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 04/30/10 at 04:52 PM ET

Tony's avatar

LOL, thanks…. My oldest son is in town for a week, so lots of stuff planned….

Carving out time for the Pens, of course….. wink

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 04/30/10 at 04:53 PM ET

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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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