How to watch
It wasn’t so long ago (even though it feels like it) that the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers met in the first round of the 2020 NHL Playoffs. Having upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in round, the Habs finished on the wrong side of some close games and had their season come to an end.
The rosters featured some promising young players. Canadiens fans of course witnessed the breakout of Nick Suzuki and a great performance from Jonathan Drouin. The Flyers meanwhile saw Carter Hart outduel Carey Price in the six-game series, and had promising players at the other two positions: Travis Sanheim on defence and Travis Konecny up front.
Montreal has since gone on a run to the Stanley Cup Final, but in 2021-22 both franchises find themselves with a lot more work left to do than originally thought at the time of that series two years ago. Both clubs are destined for the draft lottery, and looking to sell off some of their veteran players to aid their rebuilds.
Tale of the Tape
|46.2% (27th)||Scoring-chances-for %||45.2% (28th)|
|2.43 (32nd)||Goals per game||2.50 (31st)|
|3.79 (32nd)||Goals against per game||3.41 (24th)|
|12.7% (31st)||PP%||13.7% (30th)|
|73.5% (29th)||PK%||75.6% (25th)|
The top name mentioned on Philadelphia’s side is Claude Giroux, who could be joining his second NHL team within the next week. Giroux’s $8.275-million contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and he would net a fair return for the Flyers.
There are sure to be plenty of pro scouts in attendance watching the players neither team has in its future plans, whether that’s Giroux, Ben Chiarot, or other players who could help a contending team like Justin Braun or Brett Kulak.
General manager Chuck Fletcher decided this week that Rasmus Ristolainen is one of the pieces he wants to build around going forward, much to the chagrin of out sister site in Philadelphia. The player several times rumoured to be a target for Montreal during Marc Bergevin’s tenure received a five-year deal to serve as one of the pillars of the club for the next half-decade.
Two players the clubs expect to be around for many years to come are Cole Caufield for Montreal and Cam York for Philadelphia, who will be linked during their careers because they were back-to-back first-round selections in the 2019 NHL Draft. As a defenceman, York is going to take longer to hit his stride, so a direct comparison isn’t fair at this point, but they are destined for some one-on-one battles tonight regardless.
York has played 15 games this year and has a respectable four points from his blue-line position, but his ice time has been gradually dropping since he debuted in early January, from more than 20 minutes to now down around 15.
Caufield just had a four-game point streak snapped by the Seattle Kraken at the Bell Centre last night, but not for a lack of trying. He led the team in shots and paced all forwards in ice time at 23:44 thanks to numerous power-play opportunities, but couldn’t find his goal, especially as the man advantage struggled to set up. He hasn’t gone two games without a point since returning from his COVID absence in the final game under Dominique Ducharme, and based on how the top line was buzzing around the offensive zone last night, there’s no reason to believe that will change.