It’s easy to look at the 5-2 score line and think that Montreal was utterly outclassed and shellacked out of their own building on Saturday night. But, the numbers tell a different story. One where, through two-thirds of the game, the Montreal Canadiens ran the Philadelphia Flyers’ show, and then had the wheels come off.
The pressure the Canadiens put on in the early going had the Flyers back on their heels right from the outset. So much in fact, that they managed one long-range shot on Antti Niemi through twenty minutes of game time. By the end of the game, the heatmaps showed that Montreal was living in the high-danger areas, but were being bested by Carter Hart.
It’s the polar opposite of their earlier wins this week, where they played back on their heels, but managed to counter and score timely goals. So, going into their next matchup against the Coyotes on Wednesday night, Montreal shouldn’t change anything from this game. Carey Price will likely get the start, which should alleviate some pressure. Much like the Flyers, the Coyotes can exploit any chance given to them, so Montreal needs to keep their foot on the gas, even if the goals aren’t happening yet.
Of course, the momentum-killing power play remains a point of contention, but at this point it’s a subject that’s been beaten to death. At even strength, however, the Canadiens can continue to dominate and dictate the flow of play. Each line and defensive pairing had their chances against the Flyers. There’s no reason they can’t do the same to an inconsistent Arizona team too.
If I’m Claude Julien, I put that same lineup in on Wednesday, and I tell them to play like they did in the first half of Saturday’s game. Just this time, don’t ease up at all, keep the pedal down and earn that win this time.