How to watch
Tuesday’s game could have gone a different way. The Montreal Canadiens hit four posts throughout the night — three in the first period alone — in what was a decent performance from the altered forward lineup. As it was, they still scored two goals for just the third time in what is now a seven-game losing streak, and that can be called progress.
The biggest issue for the team is that even if all of their shots off posts had gone in, they would have only won by a single goal — or lost anyway if we’re granting the same rules to a Penguins team that played the pipes a few times of their own. Defensive-zone coverage is still proving difficult, and not even Alexander Romanov, arguably the most consistent player on the back end in recent weeks, was immune from the gaffes that led to goals against.
Jeff Petry voiced his frustration with the way the team is playing, and how little seems to have been done to address it. It was difficult to interpret his post-game comments as anything but criticism of how the coaching staff is conducting its business this year, and yesterday, in true Festivus fashion, all parties involved participated in the airing of grievances.
The Philadelphia Flyers weren’t so happy with their coaching staff either after seeing a 4-2 start to the season turn into a downward spiral of losing hockey. After eight defeats in a row, they finally made the decision to fire their coaching staff. Mike Yeo was thrown into the mix with a game on the same night he was hired, but after a couple of losses to start his tenure that ran the streak to 10 consecutive defeats, the Flyers have now rebounded with three wins in a row.
Tale of the Tape
|47.3% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||43.8% (32nd)|
|2.13 (30th)||Goals per game||2.63 (25th)|
|3.57 (30th)||Goals against per game||3.22 (23rd)|
|12.8% (31st)||PP%||16.7% (27th)|
|71.0% (30th)||PK%||80.9% (15th)|
|1-1-1||H2H Record (19-20)||2-1-0|
The latest victory was their biggest of the season since the second game of their schedule. They were in full control versus a New Jersey Devils team heading in the wrong direction this season, coming away with a 6-1 win.
That ‘1’ on the scoreboard is significant for the team, even versus a struggling opponent, because the last time they had allowed that few goals was nearly a month earlier, on November 16 versus the Calgary Flames. There was only one game among the intervening 12 that the club had surrendered fewer than three.
With the injured Vegas Golden Knights club and an Arizona Coyotes squad that barely meets the requirements to be called an NHL team also in this three-game run for the Flyers, it’s tough to know if their newfound success is something born from fundamental change or just a particularly soft section of their schedule. A game versus the 31st-ranked team tonight probably won’t provide any more clarity on that question.
In the extremely limited sample with Yeo at the helm, they have been more assertive getting pucks to the crease; his tenure began by taking over the fifth-worst team at generating high-danger chances, and it has at least been a median-level team in that category over the past week. Again, that could just be the quality of opponent, but it’s still bad news for an equally poor Canadiens team that has had serious issues keeping track of players and assignments in front of their goaltender all season long.
Which goaltender the Canadiens will be trying to defend is one of the questions for the head coach tonight, and one Ducharme admitted he’s gotten wrong this year, overplaying Jake Allen. He doesn’t seem to have much confidence in Samuel Montembeault to step in for the odd game, and that means Allen has been one of the most-used goaltenders by minutes played (sixth at 1315 minutes).
You’d have to expect that there will be a bit more help for whoever does get the call in net following that get-together on Wednesday. Both Montembeault and Cayden Primeau have been among the most neglected netminders in the NHL this season, with the sixth-most (35.4) and second-most (39.2) shots against per 60 minutes of play, respectively. If it is a backup to the backup who gets the call for this home return, he will be quite happy to see some type of improvement in how the chances are thwarted in front of him.