Sharks live another day, while Habs fading fast
AP Photo/LM Otero
Five Things We Learned Wednesday Night
By Scott Burnside1. Once again, owning the shot clock means nothing. The Montreal Canadiens outshot the Philadelphia Flyers by a 38-26 margin in Wednesday's Game 4, yielding the same result in the win column as the previous two games -- losses. Now the Canadiens face a must-win situation Saturday or their dream of a Stanley Cup run will end in the second round. In their three straight losses, the Habs have outshot Philadelphia 108-63. They are also failing to capitalize on power-play chances, going 0-for-4 Wednesday, while the Flyers scored twice on the man-advantage. A cynic would suggest the Canadiens lack killer instinct and clutch scoring. Regardless, they have squandered chance after chance and now face a long, uphill battle.
2. For the second straight series, the Flyers have jumped to a 3-1 series lead. In the first round against Washington, they found it difficult to close the door and ended up going to overtime in Game 7 before Joffrey Lupul sent them to the second round. Given the Habs' significant edge in play and the Flyers' penchant for failing to hold two-goal leads (they blew another Wednesday as the Habs tied the game at 2 in the third), it would behoove the Flyers to close out the Habs quickly, as opposed to letting them gain any momentum.
3. For all the criticism -- some deserved, some not -- heaped on the shoulders of San Jose captain Patrick Marleau, he keeps doing what it takes to try to keep his team's Cup dream alive. For the second straight night, Marleau scored short-handed for the Sharks, tying the game at 1 midway through the second period to set the stage for Milan Michalek's winning power-play goal in the third. It was the third win for the road team in this series and came as a relief to Sharks forward David Setoguchi, whose blind clearing pass led to the Stars' only goal. Game 5 is set for Friday in San Jose with the Stars still holding a 3-1 series lead.
4. Here's what happens when you kowtow to television network scheduling demands and NHL teams play second fiddle to the NBA in cities where hockey and basketball share the same building: You get a dud like the Stars-Sharks game Wednesday. After playing an emotional overtime game in Dallas on Tuesday night, the two teams were back at it less than 24 hours later, and the result was predictable: sloppy, tired play. It was hardly the ideal situation for the most important time of the season, and it was the second time this postseason the Stars have played on back-to-back nights.
5. It's hard to argue with the broadcasters who came up with Bruce Boudreau, Guy Carbonneau and Mike Babcock as their three finalists for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. In this new cap world, it's obvious coaching is going to be the difference more often than in the past, which is why you could have doubled the field and still not covered all the coaches who made significant impacts on their teams. Here's our B-team of finalists: Barry Trotz in Nashville, Michel Therrien in Pittsburgh and Claude Julien in Boston.
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.
BARRY MELROSE'S BREAKDOWN
Without Sean Avery in the lineup, the Rangers must stave off elimination at Madison Square Garden to avoid the series sweep. This season, the Rangers were 33-14-10 with Avery in the lineup and 9-13-3 when he was out.
Wings at Avs, 10 ET
Paul Stastny (knee) is probably out for the rest of the series and Ryan Smyth is doubtful with a foot ailment not exactly the two players you want out of the lineup in an elimination game vs. Detroit.
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