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Canadiens must rediscover winning formula

Here is the latest installment of Ken Hitchcock's "What's the Hitch" analysis of the Eastern Conference Final. Here is his look at Game 2 between Montreal and Philadelphia:

 

Montreal's "Hitch": Don't react to body contact, play through it, stay out of the penalty box.

 

First shift: "The Canadiens need to get back to what they did so well in the first two series, all five men working in the defensive, middle and offensive zones, excellent puck management and no reaction to body contact.

"Winning is a feeling. The Flyers feel right now like they are never going to lose again. Even if they have an off-period like the first period Sunday night, they haven't lost the feeling. Montreal needs to change that feeling and they can start by taking back the middle zone, just like they stopped the Capitals' top players, Ovechkin and especially Backstrom and, in the next series, Crosby and Malkin.

 

"Avoiding penalties will help, too. The Flyers had two power-play goals Sunday, but it was really more like four power-play goals because two goals were scored right after the penalty was over."

Coach's eye for details: "Besides not controlling center ice on Sunday, Montreal didn't get out of its own zone fast enough.

 

"Montreal can't let the Flyers get in front of Halak and stay there. On two of the goals, there were both the Flyers forward and the Montreal defender screening Halak."

 

Final period: "Montreal reacted to body contact too much on Sunday. They took penalties and, well, simply reacted instead of playing through it, competing until the whistle blows. When you react, you have emotions, which leads to frustration and hesitation. What they need to do in Game 2 is stay out of the reactionary phase to avoid puck errors, such as turnovers in center ice. If Montreal is not turning the puck over at center ice, that tells you something good."

 

Philadelphia's "Hitch": Keep "parking early" in front of the Montreal net.

 

First shift: "Everyone talks about going to the net. The Flyers parked themselves early at the net in Sunday's game before some plays even developed. They stayed there, so Halak couldn't pick up the shots, especially the angles of the shots. Success this time of year is about being at the net early. The Flyers scored on angle shots in Game 1, the puck went through two or three guys [players from both teams] before Halak could see it."

 

Coach's eye for details: "Chris Pronger is one of those stars: the bigger the stage, the better he plays. He's been like that since I coached against him in the late 1990s. During the Olympics in Vancouver, he was the best defenseman on any team in the last two games of the medal round."

 

Philadelphia is getting scoring from its third line and even its third defensive pair. That's when you know everything is going right.

 

The Flyers not only think they can win every game, "they think they can score on every shift."

 

Final period: Here's what Coach Hitchcock would say to these Flyers: "I would remind them why they have been winning. I would keep them focused on getting to the net early."