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Traffic In Front Helps Flyers Solve Sizzling Goalie

Monday, 05.17.2010 / 9:02 AM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com
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Traffic In Front Helps Flyers Solve Sizzling Goalie
(Philadelphia, PA) - There was a homemade sign that a fan raised prior to the opening faceoff of the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday that begged the Philadelphia Flyers to "Shellac Halak."

As it turned out, the hometown team was more than willing to oblige.

Halak, of course, is Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who entered the conference final riding an emotional high following impressive series triumphs over the heavily-favored Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening two rounds.

That sign proved rather prophetic, however, as the Flyers crashed the crease and, at times, stood uncontested for rebounds on the way to a 6-0 victory in Game 1 at Wachovia Center. Halak was drilled for four goals on only 11 shots and replaced by Carey Price just 9:53 into the second period, marking the third time in the playoffs that he has been pulled by coach Jacques Martin.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak is shown doubled over in the net as Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell (19), celebrates with Braydon Coburn, center, and Danny Briere (48) after Hartnell assisted on Coburn's first period goal in the Flyers 6-0 shutout of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals in Philadelphia on Sunday,

It's pretty apparent that unless the Canadiens take the time to clear the crease for their goaltenders, this best-of-7 series will be over sooner rather than later. In fact, five of the Flyers' six goals were a result of perfect screens or a body stationed in front of the cage.

And it all started when defenseman Braydon Coburn pitched tent just outside the right post before snapping home a rebound past Halak 3:55 into the game.

"We have guys that, when the puck is there, are good down low," Coburn said. "They all have strong sticks down there and, when you're in that area, you have to do everything you can to get that puck in.

"When you're setting up screens and stuff like that, and the puck gets through to the net and is sitting there, you have to do a good job because Halak is a great goalie. Some of his best saves have been on second and third opportunities, so we have to bear down in those areas."

The Flyers certainly did on Sunday to win the opening game of the conference final in decisive fashion.

"We definitely wanted to go and get him; go in front of the net, put the puck there and get the rebounds," Flyers forward Ville Leino told NHL.com. "That's what we wanted to do and we have to do that in Game 2 as well."

Flyers rookie forward James van Riemsdyk, who scored his second career playoff goal in as many games, realizes the importance of getting bodies in front of Halak.

"Yeah, that's going to be huge," he said. "Obviously, they're pretty tight defensively, and Halak's been unbelievable all playoffs long. You let him get in the zone out there, he can make it a long night for you. We had to keep getting guys in front of him, make his job difficult."

In addition to making life miserable for Halak and Price (two goals allowed on 11 shots), van Riemsdyk also saw other positives in the victory.

"I felt our skating, and our physical play was pretty good," van Riemsdyk said. "We made their lives miserable out there, and we need to keep doing that for the rest of the series."

Halak certainly isn't the first goalie to experience the wrath of the Flyers in the crease. Philadelphia tagged New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur for 15 goals on 126 shots in five games (.881 save percentage) in the conference quarterfinal round before connecting for 22 goals on Boston's Tuukka Rask on 216 attempts in the conference semifinals. Rask finished with a .898 save percentage in seven games.

"You do what you try and do against any good goalie," Flyers forward Blair Betts told NHL.com. "You get in his face, create screens, traffic. We want to shoot from everywhere and try and get as many shots on net as we can."

Still, Betts, who won 59 percent of his faceoffs for the night, feels both teams can put forth an even greater effort.

"I don't think they were even close to being at their best," he said. "I don't think we were at our best, either. We were pretty opportunistic with our chances. The ones that we did get, we scored great goals. We're going to need a better effort. I think the best thing we can do is just remember the good things that we did, learn from the bad things and forget about this game entirely."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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