Flyers at Canadiens, Game 4

Posted: May 22, 2010

Looking ahead to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals between the seventh-seeded Flyers and eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon at the so-loud-it's-ridiculous Bell Centre.

First-period blues

If the Flyers are going to take a commanding series lead of three games to one, they need a much stronger start Saturday.

The Flyers have been on their heels in the opening 20 minutes of the last three games. They have been outshot by a combined 46-21 in the three first periods.

"We have to have a better start; we have to be more aggressive," said center Claude Giroux, who alternated answering questions in English and French.

Getting testy

Will the testy feelings that flared toward the end of Game 3 carry into Saturday?

There was a lot of trash-talking, a lot of chippy play in the final minutes of Thursday's 5-1 Montreal win. There were eight penalties in the last 1 minute, 51 seconds, including a one-sided decision by Scott Hartnell (minus-2) in a fight with the Habs' Roman Hamrlik (two assists, plus-4).

These teams have more of an edge between them than the Flyers and Bruins did in the semifinals.

"I think as the series moves along and there is more and more hate from each side, things like that are bound to happen at some point," center Danny Briere said. "We have a lot of guys that are good in that department as well. But we just have to be careful not letting their guys that are doing that take control of the game, take control of the emotion on our team."

Embracing their nation

Everybody knows Canada is crazy about hockey.

Turns out the popularity is surging among immigrants to our northern neighbors.

According to a new survey by Environics Analytics and Research Now, the level of hockey interest in several ethnic communities is higher than it is for the average Canadian.

The survey said roughly half of all Canadians claim they are "somewhat or very interested" in watching professional hockey. By comparison, 70 percent of Italian Canadians, 64 percent of the Arab community, and 61 percent of Asian Canadians consider themselves fans.

It's a way to embrace a nation, they say. And, based on the ear-splitting noise that fans created in the Bell Centre during Montreal's 5-1 whipping of the Flyers on Thursday, that nation has never been more passionate.

With all due respect to the devoted fans in Philly, Washington, Boston, and Chicago, among others, the noise created at the Bell Centre is second to none.

Wake-up call

You know you've "arrived" as a respected NHL goalie when Bell Centre fans derisively chant your name.

Flyers goalie Michael Leighton says he enjoys the atmosphere at the electric arena.

"For me, it's a fun building to play in," said Leighton, who could only be faulted for one goal in Montreal's win Thursday. "It kind of wakes you up and keeps you alert and gives you a chill sometimes when they're that loud."

In control?

Whether they win or lose Saturday, the Flyers are in good shape - at least that's what history tells us.

A win would give the Flyers a 3-1 series lead, and they are 18-3 in series in which they have won three of the first four games.

A loss would even the series at two games apiece. The Flyers are 13-6 in series that are tied, 2-2.

- Sam Carchidi

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