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Canadiens @ Flyers: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

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A day after a dismal effort on home ice, the Habs look to do better on the road.

Montreal Canadiens v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ Philadelphia Flyers

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2, TSN Direct (English), RDS, RDS Direct (French)
In the Flyers region: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live

For every 60-minute effort like the win versus the Calgary Flames on Monday that the Canadiens have pieced together this season, there’s been a frustrating, bewildering effort like what the team displayed in front of its home fans against the Chicago Blackhawks last night. They came out of the gate flat, with shots heavily in the Blackhawks’ favour in the opening minutes, and they never got up to game speed.

The Habs didn’t force Corey Crawford to make many difficult saves, despite his side being one of the most porous defensive teams even with a healthy blue-line corps this season, which they haven’t had now for several weeks. There were some occasional flashes, encouragingly from the long-term options like Ryan Poehling, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Victor Mete, but overall it was a rough night for all 20 players who dressed for the game.

The team has to scrape itself off the ice surface to get ready to play again, because they’re on the road to face the Philadelphia Flyers this evening. Claude Julien held Carey Price out of last night’s game so he’d be fresh versus a team sitting in one of the wild-card spots the Canadiens would probably need to jump into to make the post-season., and both of them will expect better from the skaters.

The gap between the clubs has grown by two points since the head coach made that call, as the Flyers knocked off the St. Louis Blues in overtime in the only other game played on Wednesday night. There are now nine points (and four other teams) between them, so even mathematical hopes of sneaking in are beginning to take a hit.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Flyers
Canadiens Statistic Flyers
20-21-7 Record 25-16-6
0-0-2 H2H Record (18-19) 2-0-0
54.0% (2nd) Corsi-for pct. 51.2% (10th)
3.00 (17th) Goals per game 3.09 (13th)
3.15 (20th) Goals against per game 2.98 (14th)
20.4% (12th) PP% 19.4% (19th)
78.0% (23rd) PK% 81.9% (11th)
L-L-W-W-L Form OT-W-L-W-W

At the very least, the Habs could be playing with more punch tonight than they have for much of the past month. Last night’s demotion of Matthew Peca, the team’s only extra forward, suggests a player is now healthy and ready to come off the IR. After being injured in a game versus the Winnipeg Jets on December 23, it seems Joel Armia is set to make his return to the lineup.

The team has been sorely missing not only the big Finn’s scoring touch — he’s still tied for third with 12 goals, four off the team lead — but his assertive play with the puck in the offensive zone. It’s been especially noticeable with both him and Brendan Gallagher missing from the ice, but Armia will likely stand out tonight with his work around the net if he just plays his regular game.

He will surely have been just as frustrated as many of those who’ve watched the team plummet down the standings, knowing that his style of game is precisely what the team needed to push them over the edge in some of those close games, and you can expect that he’ll be looking to make a big impact right from his first shift.

The Flyers aren’t exactly running away with their playoff spot, having one regulation victory since the Christmas break. They have been coming out on the right side of results decided in extra time, winning their last two games after the regular 60 minutes were up.

Last night’s overtime hero was Jakub Voracek, with just his ninth goal of the season. He has scored 20 goals in six of his last seven seasons, but that mark may prove difficult to reach for the 30-year-old forward in 2019-20.

The team’s current goal-scoring leader is the 22-year-old Travis Konecny. He’s been a very reliable producer for Philadelphia, with a shooting percentage showing very little fluctuation over the past three seasons, on pace for about the 24 goals he’s posted in the past two seasons. This year he’s brought more of a playmaking element to that personal finish, already approaching his career-high assist total. Playing with Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux certainly helps, as does being backed up by the likes of Voracek and Sean Couturier, the latter of whom is currently leading the team in points.

Of course, if the Canadiens play the same lacklustre style they did versus the Blackhawks, it won’t take the opposing team’s top producers to beat them. Two goals from fourth-line centre Zack Smith proved enough to knock the Habs out last night, and that should be enough motivation to put in a proper effort at Wells Fargo Center tonight.

Montreal Canadiens projected roster

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Tomas Tatar Phillip Danault Ilya Kovalchuk
Max Domi Nick Suzuki Joel Armia
Artturi Lehkonen Jesperi Kotkaniemi Ryan Poehling
Nick Cousins Nate Thompson Dale Weise

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Ben Chiarot Shea Weber
Marco Scandella Jeff Petry
Victor Mete Brett Kulak

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Carey Price
Carey Price

Injured: Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher
Scratched: Cale Fleury, Jordan Weal

Philadelphia Flyers projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Claude Giroux Kevin Hayes Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl Sean Couturier Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk Scott Laughton Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyler Pitlick Connor Bunnaman Chris Stewart

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Ivan Provorov Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim Philippe Myer
Robert Hagg Mark Friedman

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Alex Lyon
Brian Elliott