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Traffic In Front Helps Flyers Solve Sizzling Goalie

Monday, 05.17.2010 / 9:02 AM / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com
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Traffic In Front Helps Flyers Solve Sizzling Goalie
For one night, at least, Jaroslav Halak didn’t look like the second-coming of Ken Dryden as the Canadiens goalie was victimized four times by a Flyers team fond of crashing his crease before he was finally lifted midway through the second period of Game 1 for Carey Price.
(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
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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