Game preview: MTL @ PHI
CANADIENS (19-10-3) vs. FLYERS (13-15-3)
After a tough 6-0 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, the Habs go on the road and continue their quest for the division lead.
Last time out, almost everything that went right for the Canadiens on their ten-game point streak went wrong at the Bell Centre, as the Kings forced coach Michel Therrien to replace starter Carey Price with Peter Budaj after the fourth goal, the first time the Habs have pulled their goaltender this season. Six different shooters lit the lamp for the visiting team. Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Kyle Clifford and three other Kings had multi-point nights. Despite putting 30 shots on rookie netminder Martin Jones, the Habs were shut out for the third time in 2013-14.
While things are on the upswing for the Flyers, who are close to playing .500 hockey after starting the season in poor form, they are also looking to forget the outcome of their previous game. Playing in Chicago, the Flyers were routed 7-2 by the Blackhawks despite outshooting the home team 30-23. After Jakub Voracek opened up the scoring for Philadelphia, the Hawks came back with a five-goal second period, chasing starter Ray Emery in the process. Steve Mason finished the game, making four saves on five shots.
The Flyers are led in scoring by captain Claude Giroux, who has five goals since going scoreless in the first 15 games of the season. Youngsters Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier are also having solid offensive seasons, trailing Giroux with 17 and 15 points respectively. On the blueline, playing big minutes for coach Berube are Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen and former Hab Mark Streit. All three are averaging over 20 minutes per game in all situations. In net, the undisputed starter for Philly is former Calder winner Steve Mason, who is 10-9-3 with a .926 save percentage.
Absent for the Flyers is off-season signing Vincent Lecavalier, who scored 14 points in 22 games for his new team before landing on the injury reserve with a back injury.
As for the Canadiens, Rene Bourque did not make the trip and is still out with an upper-body injury, but coach Michel Therrien believes he will be back early next week.
In all likelihood, Carey Price will be back between the pipes in Philadelphia. Despite taking the loss on Tuesday, he is still posting an excellent numbers on the season (2.08 GAA, .934 SV%).
Thursday’s game will be the second of three matchups between Montreal and Philadelphia in 2013-14. The Habs, led by former Flyer Daniel Briere, will look to snap a five-game losing streak in the City of Brotherly Love, dating back to April 2010.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.