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By Judd Hall
No. 1 Montreal Canadiens vs. No. 6 Philadelphia Flyers
Series Price: Montreal -180, Philadelphia +160
Series Format: Montreal, 2-2-1-1-1
Skinny: The Canadiens appeared to show a little of their age in the postseason opening series against Boston. If there was a culprit to point your finger at, I’m going to say it was the Habs’ youth. That’s to be expected with a team that has players with an average age of 25.
Some of the inexperience did show with 20 year old netminder Carey Price, having two mortal starts in a row for Games 5 and 6. I guess you can say that he made up for it by pulling in two shutouts in the series, including in the seventh and final match with the Bruins by stopping all 25 shots sent his way.
Philadelphia also got put to the test early and often with a game Capitals club that stretched their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal to seven games. That has a lot to do with the Flyers tightening up in their fifth and sixth matches of the showdown and failing to keep Alex Ovechkin in check at the time.
The Flyers were ultimately able to move on in the playoffs thanks to big money signing Daniel Briere leading all skaters with 11 points thus far.
Gambling Notes: The Habs swept the season series (4-0) against Philly this season, covering the puck line in three of the matches. However, we all saw just how well that translates to wins in the playoffs when taking on the Bruins in the first round. That sweep is also misleading when you consider the Flyers were without players like Derian Hatcher and Joffrey Lupul.
Montreal has been a quality bet at home recently, going 10-3 SU since the beginning of March. The Canadiens have also been able to keep the scores low as evidenced by their 12-9-3 mark since March 1.
If you’re thinking about backing the Flyers at anytime while in the Bell Centre, ponder this. They may have won two road matches in the last round, but are just 7-12 SU in their last 19 tests away from the Wachovia Center.
Outlook: This series looks like an almost exact replica of what Philly faced in the first round, a team with deadly speed and can score goals in bunches. And while the Broad Street Bullies were able to hold down Ovechkin, they couldn’t contain when it mattered most.
So now the Flyers are taking on a Montreal offense that essentially runs three deep, not just one strong line like the Caps possess. That means your blue line, which has been confused for cigar store Indian on more than one occasion, must try to actually be mobile.
Can Philadelphia keep this series competitive? Of course they can, but being competitive and winning are at different ends of the spectrum.
Les Habitants will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in five games.