PREVIEW: FLYERS @ CANADIENS
In the second match of a four-game road trip, Craig Berube’s Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-8) are in Quebec to take on Michel Therrien’s Montreal Canadiens (34-15-3) on Tuesday night. Game time at the Bell Centre is 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be televised locally on CSN Philadelphia.
This is the third and final meeting of the season between the teams this season.
On Oct. 11 in Philadelphia, the Flyers relinquished a 3-0 lead in the third period and went on to lose, 4-3, via shootout. On Nov. 15 in Montreal, the Habs skated to a 6-3 win behind three power play goals.
The Flyers were in action on Sunday afternoon in Washington. Their next game following this one will be on Friday in Columbus. The Canadiens are playing for the third time in four nights, having hosted the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, followed by a road game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday. The Habs host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. FLYERS OUTLOOK
The Flyers have taken 11 of a possible 12 points (5-0-1) in their last six games. The team won for just the eighth time on the road this season in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Capitals.
In the game against the Caps, Philly played perhaps its best defensive game of the season. Despite a 6-to-1 disparity in power plays in Washington’s favor, the Flyers outshot the Capitals, 25-14, for the game. Philadelphia played an outstanding game without the puck, with outstanding gap control, airtight coverage, clean breakouts and few unforced turnovers. The Flyers also dominated the faceoff circle, winning 61 percent of draws.
Mark Streit, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek (power play empty net goal) tallied for the Flyers. Alexander Ovechkin notched the lone Washington goal, scored shortly after a 5-on-3 power play became a 5-on-4.
The win, however, came at a steep cost to the Flyers. Starting goaltender Steve Mason, who has been nothing short of stellar when in the lineup, suffered his third significant injury of the season. Mason (eight saves on eight shots) left at the 11:18 mark of the second period. Ray Emery went the rest of the way, stopping five of six shots in 28:42.
Mason appeared to reinjure his right knee. According a report by CSN Philadelphia and HockeyBuzz writer Tim Panaccio, Mason will undergo exploratory surgery to determine what is going on with his right knee and why he has had repeated “lock ups” without an obvious triggering event. Numerous MRIs have failed to detect anything out of the ordinary.
The absence of Mason — ranked fourth in the NHL with a .925 save percentage and 11th with a 2.27 goals against average and a pair of shutouts — is a big blow to the team. For now, the team will rely on Emery (.886 save percentage, 3.34 GAA, 9-9-1 record in 21 appearances) to carry the load in net.
With Lehigh Valley Phantoms starting goaltender Rob Zepp sidelined by a right ankle injury, the Flyers have recalled 21-year-old rookie Anthony Stolarz to back up Emery in Montreal. Zepp’s injury is said not to be serious.
Michael Raffl (pneumonia) remains out of the lineup. So does defenseman Braydon Coburn, who was projected to miss approximately four weeks from the time he sustained a left foot injury on Jan. 12. Coburn has been skating since last week and has joined the team on the road trip.
Kimmo Timonen (blood clot) has missed the entire season. He began skating on his own on Friday and will continue to do while the team is on the road. It is possible that he could be ready to play in late February.
Zac Rinaldo will serve the sixth game of an eight-game NHL suspension for charging/boarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang on Jan. 20. He is eligible to return for the Feb. 17 home game against Columbus. Canadiens outlook
The Habs bounced back quickly from getting upended in back-to-back games by the lowly Arizona Coyotes and lowlier Buffalo Sabres to open the month of February. The Canadiens blew out the New Jersey Devils, 6-2, on Saturday and then downed the archrival Bruins, 3-1, in Boston.
In Sunday’s win over the Bruins, the Canadiens got goals from Dale Weise and Max Pacioretty in the respective opening 60 seconds of the middle and final periods of the game. Defenseman Andrei Markov added a late empty net goal to seal the win. Carey Price was sensational in goal, stopping 34 of 35 shots to earn the win.
Entering this game, Montreal sports an 18-7-2 record on home ice this season. Overall, the Canadiens are 5-2-0 since the All-Star break.
Price is having a Vezina Trophy caliber season in goal for the Canadiens, who enter the match having allowed the fewest goals against per game in the NHL this season. In 42 games to date, Price sports a 29-11-2 record, 2.03 GAA, .932 save percentage and four shutouts.
Pacioretty leads all skaters with 24 goals, 45 points and a plus-28 rating at even strength. Former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban paces the blueline with 11 goals (six power play tallies) and 36 points in 52 games.
Canadiens center David Desharnais has been red-hot of late. He was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for last week, posting six points (one goal, five assists) in three games.
Veteran forward P.A. Parenteau is on injured reserve due to a concussion. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)
Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.70 (T-17th), Canadiens 2.62 (21st)
Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 2.81 (24th), Canadiens 2.23 (1st)
Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 1.02 (T-16th), Canadiens 1.22 (6th)
Power play efficiency: Flyers 23.7% (3rd), Canadiens 17.3% (T-22nd)
Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 75.3% (28th), Canadiens 84.5% (6th)
Faceoff percentage: Flyers 51.2% (T-11th), Canadiens 54.1% (1st) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)
10 Brayden Schenn – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read – 14 Sean Couturier – 17 Wayne Simmonds
25 Ryan White – 49 Scott Laughton – 18 R.J. Umberger
76 Chris VandeVelde – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 40 Vincent Lecavalier
55 Nick Schultz – 32 Mark Streit
15 Michael Del Zotto – 22 Luke Schenn
8 Nickla Grossmann – 47 Andrew MacDonald
29 Ray Emery
[65 Anthony Stolarz]
Scratches: Carlo Colaiacovo (healthy), Braydon Coburn (IR, left foot), Zac Rinaldo (suspension), Michael Raffl (pneumonia), Kimmo Timonen (LTIR, blood clots), Steve Mason (right knee).
67 Max Pacioretty – 51 David Desharnais – 22 Dale Weise
27 Alex Galchenyuk – 14 Tomas Plekanec – 11 Brendan Gallagher
49 Michael Bournival – 81 Lars Eller – 26 Jiri Sekac
8 Brandon Prust – 25 Jacob De La Rose – 60 Christian Thomas
79 Andrei Markov – 76 P.K. Subban
28 Nathan Beaulieu- 55 Sergei Gonchar
74 Alexei Emelin – 77 Tom Gilbert
31 Carey Price
[35 Dustin Tokarski]
Scratches: P-A Parenteau (concussion), Manny Malhotra (healthy), Mike Weaver (healthy).