Montreal Canadiens did Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders a favour

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz leaves the ice as the Montreal Canadiens celebrate their 6-2 at the Barclays Center on March 03, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz leaves the ice as the Montreal Canadiens celebrate their 6-2 at the Barclays Center on March 03, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens, Barry Trotz
TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 21: Barry Trotz Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Yes, the Habs lost, but they played a lot better than most expected them to, and it wasn’t all on the shoulders of Carey Price. And to go even further, the Canadiens exposed something about the Philadelphia Flyers that I’m sure Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders paid attention to.

I looked at this in an article ahead of Game 6, where I made a few observations leading to a final conclusion that Games 2 and 5 weren’t all that different.

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Game 2 was Montreal’s 5-0 blowout win, while Game 5 was fiery and energetic 5-3 victory to push the series forward. Some will say those were the two games where the Flyers lost their defensive structure, but I’ll argue the Montreal Canadiens made them do it.

Speed through transition and controlling the back of the net really helped the Habs in those two games. They continued to push the pace and keep the Flyers guessing, so much so that there were multiple occasions where a man would be left alone in the slot or right in the crease with Hart.

When Montreal stepped away from this playing style, they allowed Philadelphia to establish an early lead, dictate the pace, and shutdown centre ice, which is where the Habs are their most dangerous.

Trotz likely had a giant smile on his face watching those games. The New York Islanders do play a similar reserved style, but they can grind it out, use their speed, and fight for space to capitalize. Players such as Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier, to name a few, are going to be difference-makers.