Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet East/Ontario (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Flyers region: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
The Canadiens took a 2-0 lead into the third period against the Metropolitan Division-leading Columbus Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand cut the lead in half a mere 5:17 into the final frame, but the Habs — aided by stellar goaltending from Carey Price — would weather the storm until two Joel Armia insurance markers sealed a 4-1 Canadiens victory. Now, with a season-high four-game winning streak in their back pocket, the Habs return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the second half of a back-to-back.
Tale of the Tape
|0-1-2||H2H Record (17-18)||3-0-0|
|53.6% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||50.6% (12th)|
|3.02 (13th)||Goals per game||2.81 (23rd)|
|2.92 (14th)||Goals against per game||3.55 (29th)|
|12.7% (31st)||PP%||13.5% (30th)|
|79.5% (18th)||PK%||76.1% (28th)|
A year removed from a playoff appearance, the Flyers have simply not been a very good team this season. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier are still the team’s leading scorers, but all three are some way off their 2017-18 paces. Meanwhile, Wayne Simmonds is struggling with only 22 points in 47 games, second-overall pick Nolan Patrick only has 15 points on the season, and high-profile free agent signee James van Riemsdyk had only tallied six goals in 27 games before a recent hot streak propelled him to his current 11 in 31.
The firings of general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol haven’t changed the Flyers’ fortunes either, as January (3-5-1) has been the worst month of the season thus far. Part of that is the fact that the Flyers have used three netminders in the nine games, none of whom had actually been on the team’s roster on opening night.
If there has been a bright spot this year, it’s the emergence of Carter Hart as a potential long-term solution for the franchise’s perpetual weakness between the pipes. Posting a team-best save percentage of .915 in his 11 games started, Hart has contributed significantly to the Flyers’ recent run of good form, making 39 saves against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night to secure his team’s third victory in four games.
Despite the distance between them in the standings, Saturday night will feature a matchup of two teams riding the heady wave of momentum. Canadiens teams of recent years past had a bad habit of playing down to their opposition’s level. Will this year’s team do the same? Faced with a prime opportunity to keep pace with the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Habs can put distance between themselves and the pack chasing the wild-card positions.