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Flyers vs. Canadiens: Who’s the favorite?

Image (1) Habs4-thumb-250x166-11565.jpg for post 1620

We only have one day to dwell on the big series win by the Philadelphia Flyers, one that has seemingly overwhelmed the incredible win by the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the Flyers ousting the Bruins wasn’t exactly unexpected -- although coming back from down 0-3 was -- the Habs taking out both the Penguins and the Capitals in two straight rounds is something that absolutely no one saw coming.

So now we have perhaps the most improbable conference finals matchup in recent memory, and not just because it’s the bottom two seeds in the conference. What both teams have had to overcome to reach this point is nothing short of amazing, but unfortunately only one team of destiny can advance from here.

The question is, which team is now the favorite? Is it the Flyers, the team that has overcome so many injuries and goaltending issues to surprise the Devils and then shock the Bruins? Or is the Canadiens, who found the perfect system that frustrated the heck out of the greatest hockey players in the world?

Whichever it might be, there’s no doubt that this upcoming series will be like nothing either team has faced before.

Chris Iorfida of CBC Sports lays out how the Flyers present a different challenge for the Habs, as they may actually be -- at this point -- a more complete team than the Penguins and the Capitals:

Philadelphia, even without Carter, still has six players in the lineup who scored at least 14 goals this season. The list doesn’t include talented late-season pickup Ville Leino, who stepped into the lineup in the Boston series and contributed two goals and four assists.

The list is headed by Mike Richards. The captain isn’t quite on the level of Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin, but he can score regularly while also giving maximum effort in his own end, something that can’t always be said of that trio.

The Canadiens were successful against the Penguins and Capitals by playing a system that was nearly the direct opposite of those two teams. The Habs used sound defense and stellar goaltending to negate the offensive attack that both teams employ while utilizing their counterattack approach to perfection. The Canadiens managed this by taking out the two best players on each team and taking advantage of the lack of depth each team turned out to have.

The Flyers present a different challenge for the Habs, a team that is just as relentless and deep as they are. But turned around, you also have to think that the Flyers have yet to face a team like the Habs.

Both the Devils and the Bruins lacked the attitude and the confidence the Habs now possess, nevermind the defensive fortitude and goaltending they’ve build through two series. The knockout, physical and hard fought series we expected with the Bruins should certainly come to fruition against Montreal.

Which team is the favorite? It’s likely that most will pick Philadelphia after the momentum they’ve build after the series against Boston. Despite the different challenges that the Canadiens will face with the Flyers, there’s no way you can count them out. Especially in a seven game series.