NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens
Flyers (6-8-1) at Canadiens (8-4-1) 7 p.m., NHLN, CSN
Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Friday night should have been a win.
Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers blew a two-goal lead, ultimately falling to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-3. After a three-goal first period, the Flyers seemed to just sit back on their heels and allow the Devils to claw back into, which they did. Now, they’ll continue their six-game road trip against the Montreal Canadiens.
It certainly won’t be easy, but a misfortune that has caused them trouble in the past, may assist them for this game.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who has been so good this year (2.06 GAA, .922 SV%), will be out for Saturday night’s contest with the flu. Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier just recently returned to the lineup after missing the past two games with the same illness.
Not only did the Flyers lose the game on Friday night, but they also lost their best defenseman. Kimmo Timonen left the contest in the third period with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He did not return. The exact severity of the injury remains unclear. The Flyers cannot afford to lose Timonen. He is a locker room leader, one of the very few puck-moving defensemen they have and provides an offensive touch on the man advantage.
Between the Pipes
While Ilya Bryzgalov wasn’t all to blame for last night’s lost, he certainly did not look his best. There were a few shots that the rock solid Bryzgalov of 2013 probably should have saved. He really just didn’t look all that comfortable in net. With back-to-back games on hand, perhaps backup Brian Boucher will get the nod for Saturday night.
Again, with Price sidelined with the flu, the Habs will likely go with Peter Budaj in the cage. In two starts this year, Budaj sports a 0-1-1 record and a GAA of 4.33.
Keys to Win
Keep foot on the pedal: The Flyers surrendered a two-goal lead during Friday night’s loss against the Devils. If they get out in front in this contest, keep attacking. Montreal has fast, talented offensive weapons who can hurt you. Don’t let them get back into the game at all.
Start strong: New Jersey scored goals less than a minute into both the first and second period last night. While the Flyers climbed their way back, why would you want to always start this way? Instead, Philadelphia must be the aggressor, set the tone early and never look back.
Flyers have won three straight and six of seven vs Canadiens.
Scott Hartnell could return from a broken foot as early as Wednesday, making his absence around four weeks, rather than the expected 4-8.
Expect Andreas Lilja to fill the possible hole that Timonen would leave. The team could also call up Erik Gustafsson from Adirondack.