Deadspin's NHL Conference Semifinal Series Previews are being brought to you by Melt Your Face Off, where hockey is the official religion but all the editors are atheists. MYFO's LeNoceur breaks down the Montreal/Philadelphia series.
If this turtle has two faces, then this series has four. Which teams are going to show up on a given night? Will it be the Candiens team that blitzed Boston 5-0 in Game 7, and scored seemingly at will in four games of that series, or the one that struggled to put anything past Tim Thomas in the other 3? Will it be the Carey Price that had consecutive games of giving up 5 goals, or the one that had two shutouts?
For Philadelphia, will it be the tough, gritty team that opened up a 3-1 lead on Washington and closed out two overtime wins, or the one that let the Capitals back in to game after game (and the series) with sloppy play? Is it possible to preview this series entirely in question form?
Canadiens GM Bob Gainey raised a few eyebrows when he shipped Cristobal Huet to Washington at the deadline, anointing the rookie Price as the team's No. 1, and really, only, goaltender (unless you're a huge Jaroslav Halak fan). Immediate, persistent and probably unfair comparisons were made to two other rookie Montreal goaltending legends (and if I need to name them, you're probably just killing time hoping Daulerio finds another female streaker to post). Price will get his first real chance to prove Gainey right: the Flyers and Martin Biron beat Huet in the first round. If Montreal wins this series, Canadiens fans will take to the streets to demand that Price either run for Prime Minister or father a son, so that he can coach said son in a junior hockey brawl.
Other than goaltending, the real question in this series is whether Montreal's finesse-y defense can stand up to the pounding that Philly's violent and suspension-prone forwards will dole out. Here's a list recapping this season's Flyer suspensions:
Jesse Boulerice (no longer with team): 25 games
Steve Downey: 20 games
Riley Cote: 3 games
Scott Hartnell: 2 games
Randy Jones: 2 games
Mike Komisarek is really the only Montreal defender who can dish it out as well as take it, and the Canadiens do not carry a typical "enforcer" on their roster. These Canadiens are a throwback to the "Flying Frenchmen" of yesteryear — never mind that only a couple of them are actually French Canadian. They are a collection of fast, shifty, skilled 190-pound forwards, the lone "bruisers" being Alex Kovalev and sparingly used Guillaume Latendresse. Some might say that's a recipe for playoff disaster, but boy are they fun to watch when they're clicking.
The Flyers, on the other hand, are one giant bruise waiting to happen. I like them to win this series if they can tighten up the defensive zone coverage and avoid stupid penalties. Alternate, probably more accurate prediction: Montreal will win this series, thanks to their top-rated power play and Philly's propensity to take stupid penalties. Second alternate, more fun predictive tool: Which one of these girls is hotter (and trust me, it wasn't easy picking from among the collection of scary chicks that serve as Flyers Ice Girls. I think a couple of those girls could take Saku Koivu in a fight.)? Me, I'll take Montreal in 6 games.