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Canadiens vs. Flyers: Game thread, rosters, lines, and how to watch

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Seven isn’t a lucky number on Saturday afternoon.

NHL: FEB 21 Flyers at Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers

How to watch

Start time: 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now (English)
In the Canadiens region: RDS, RDS Direct (French)
In the Flyers region: NBCSP
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live

We’ve seen two different types of performances on the Montreal Canadiens’ losing streak that now sits at six games. At the very least, Thursday’s matchup with the New Jersey Devils was of the entertaining variety rather than the low-scoring one. As they had in the first meeting of the season with the Devils that began the skid — a 4-3 overtime defeat — the Habs got a decent amount of offence but were unable to outscore their defensive issues.

The Devils are one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, and the Canadiens were able to take advantage of that by getting shots from right in close, which is where most of their goals came from. Montreal managed to play even worse, however, giving up an odd-man rush every few minutes. The Habs outshot their opposition quite significantly, with a good portion of those coming from the slot, but nearly every one the Devils took was from a dangerous location. The visitors jumped from 29th in the NHL in goals scored to 24th by putting six on the scoreboard at the Bell Centre.

It’s been a disastrous homestand for the Canadiens. What should have been a chance to really separate from teams in the wild-card race and establish themselves well within post-season contention instead dropped them right out of the picture.

The news isn’t as bad as everything always seems on a run of poor results. In a very tightly contested Eastern Conference they’re still just two points out of second place in the Atlantic Division. Smarter decisions on defence will get them closer to earning a win today versus the Philadelphia Flyers, and that may be all the team needs to stop this slide.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Flyers
Canadiens Statistic Flyers
11-9-5 Record 14-7-5
0-0-1 H2H Record 1-0-0
54.4% (2nd) Corsi-for pct. 51.5% (9th)
3.32 (9th) Goals per game 3.00 (14th)
3.52 (29th) Goals against per game 2.69 (6th)
18.4% (17th) PP% 20.2% (11th)
72.7% (30th) PK% 86.5% (3rd)
L-OT-L-L-L Form W-SO-W-W-W

Just before this streak started, the Canadiens had won four of their previous five games. It may not be a good omen that the one loss came to the Flyers on November 7 in the first meeting of the year, but perhaps today’s game will be the outlier in a stretch of games once again.

It wasn’t a good performance from Montreal that night. A game after defeating the Boston Bruins, they posted their lowest shot total of the season as the Flyers outshot them 43-24 at the Wells Fargo Center. The confidence the team was playing with at that time allowed them to overcome a 2-0 deficit after 21 minutes of play, with Ben Chiarot and Shea Weber recording the goals necessary to get the game tied, while Carey Price fended off a relentless attack to prevent a third goal and steal one point before a shot slipped through him early in overtime.

The Flyers are doing very well to stay right in the mix in the Metropolitan race. Four wins in their last five games have them at 33 points, right behind the New York Islanders who were making headlines with a incredible run of results to start the season. A day after American Thanskgiving, they had another feast on the Detroit Red Wings yesterday afternoon, getting a convincing 6-1 victory under their belt before making the trip north.

Like Montreal, Philadelphia is getting their offence by committee. Travis Konecny leads the team with 24 points to rank 30th in league scoring, several positions higher than Montreal’s best man, Tomas Tatar, with 22. Only one player on each team has 10 goals (Oskar Lindblom and Brendan Gallagher) and only two players have hit the 20-point plateau.

Unlike their opponent tonight, the Flyers have been very good defensively. They rank sixth in the league in goals against per game, sitting well under three per contest, while Montreal’s number has now leapt up to 3.52.

With the two members of their goalie tandem ranking 19th and 37th in league save percentage, it’s not the netminders who are responsible for such a low number, but rather their ability to limit the opposition to few shots, as they did versus the Canadiens. That earlier game was just one of 12 times in 26 games that the Flyers have held the other team to 26 shots or fewer.

Montreal’s task is therefore to break down the strong defence they’ll face. While they have found ways to post plenty of shots this season, including on the winless streak, they have struggled to do so versus structured defensive schemes that limit their ability to break out of the zone and transition up the ice. That will put plenty of pressure on an already struggling defence, but perhaps needing to work as a unit to get anything going will force them to keep better positioning than we’ve seen over the past few weeks.

Montreal Canadiens projected roster

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Tomas Tatar Phillip Danault Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen Max Domi Nick Suzuki
Nick Cousins Jesperi Kotkaniemi Joel Armia
Charles Hudon Nate Thompson Jordan Weal

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Ben Chiarot Shea Weber
Victor Mete Jeff Petry
Gustav Olofsson Cale Fleury

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Keith Kinkaid
Carey Price

Injured: Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin
Scratched: Brett Kulak, Mikey Reilly

Philadelphia Flyers projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Claude Giroux Morgan Frost Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom Sean Couturier Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton Kevin Hayes Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk Michael Raffl Tyler Pitlick

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Ivan Provorov Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim Justin Braun
Robert Hagg Shayne Gostisbehere

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Carter Hart
Brian Elliott