Just in time for an opportunity to deal Montreal a series death blow, the Philadelphia Flyers will get back one of their more productive post-season forwards as Mike Knuble returns to the lineup for game four against the Canadians.
After going down with a minor hamstring tear in game five against the Washington Capitals, Knuble will return in full capacity and hopefully kick start what has become a frantic power play in his absence.
“If I wasn’t ready to handle everything, I wouldn’t be dressing,” said Knuble, who has three goals and two assists in the post season. “It’s just too important, and there are too many guys that we have that are healthy, and I wouldn’t go out with any limitations on myself.”
Knuble’s return to the the successful Jeff Carter – Scottie Upshall line, leaves coach John Stevens with a roster decision of who to sit. The likely candidate is penalty bullseye, 20-year old Steve Downie, who collected six unearned penalty minutes in the first period alone of game three. Umberger, who has filled in nicely for Knuble at even strength will likely be placed with Richards and Lupul, with Patrick Thoresen taking the wing on the fourth line.
At the start of the post season, Habs goaltender Carey Price was anointed the next Patrick Roy. During the Flyers series however he has looked more like Patrick Lalime, going from a .925 save percentage in the opening round against the Bruins to an .853 save percentage against the Flyers. Backup goalie Jaroslav Halak replaced Price in the third period of game three. Halek made saves on the three shots he faced. It is unknown who the Canadians will trust the entire series to in game four, but they are likely to ride the horse that got them there in Price and really see what the 20-year old is made of.
With five minutes left in the third period, Darian Hatcher hit Canadians defenseman and New York born Francis Bouillon from behind into the boards, receiving a five-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct. The Canadians scored twice on the major power play but still lost the contest 3-2. Hatcher did not feel like the five-minute major was a reasonable punishment.
“I don’t think I hit him hard,” Hatcher said. “I was letting up on him.
“I don’t think there’s a question about it that we definitely don’t get the leeway (from the refs.) I don’t think we’ve gotten any leeway in this series, and I definitely don’t think we’ve gotten any breaks from the referees.”
The Canadians however, saw the same play much differently.
“It was a dirty play and a dirty hit,” said Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek, who is an expert in late/cheap hits. “He definitely hit Bouillon from behind and it almost lost them the game.
“If he wants to do that and put his team down for five minutes, okay. You never like to see guys get him from behind, but if he wants to put his team down for five minutes and almost lose them the game, then okay. If he is proud of that, then I don’t know.”