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Canadiens Begin Crucial Pair of Games vs Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers (30-25-3) head into the last weekend of play, before the Olympic break, just a point behind the Montreal Canadiens (29-26-6) in the Eastern Conference standings, with three games in hand.

It’s pretty safe to expect them to play a very physical style in the home-and-home series, against their conference foes, Friday and Saturday.

The two teams have met once before this season, in a game where both teams set a game record for fewest combined shots (28). The Canadiens won that game by a score of 3-1.

The Flyers have won four of their last six games, and are coming off a pair of back-to-back wins against the New Jersey Devils, rallying from two-goal deficits in both games.

Defenseman Chris Pronger said the two victories were a great showing for his team.

“I think it is a good test to show what we are made of, where this team has come from and where this team needs to get to,” he said. ” We certainly don’t want to make it a habit of getting down 2-0 in games and hopefully, that will be the last. Like I said, you don’t do this against the New Jersey Devils too often.”

With Ray Emery out with a hip injury until after the Olympics, Michael Leighton will get the start in goal for the Philadelphia. Leighton has allowed two goals or less in his last four starts.

Flyers centre Jeff Carter, who is expected to be an reserve player for Team Canada, leads his team with 49 points. He picked up goals in each of the wins over New Jersey, after going on a five-game run that saw him tally just one assist.

The trip to the CIty of Brotherly Love is not a concern for the Canadiens, despite having lost five of their last seven road games. They are 8-0-1 in their last nine trips to Philadelphia, where they haven’t lost in regulation since October 27, 2003. Philadelphia has lost the last three consecutive games to Montreal and 10 of the last 11 overall.

The Canadiens are coming looking to continue their most recent success, a 6-5 win over the Washington Capitals that stopped their 14-game winning streak.

Carey Price will get the start in goal, not overly surprising given his 5-0 record against the Flyers. Dominic Moore, acquired Wednesday in a trade with the Florida Panthers, is expected to play as well.

Defensemen Josh Gorges, who took a puck to the head that would kill a mortal man, will start and Andrei Markov is out with a lower-body injury for Friday’s game, so P.K. Subban will make his NHL debut at the Wachovia Center.

“Dominic has great speed and is a good penalty killer,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “I think he can really help us in the stretch on the third line, especailly when we get everyone else back.” Martin did confirm that he will keep Moore on either the third or fourth lines for Friday’s game.

“Josh should be all right, but you never know. We felt that we needed to have some insurance here,” he added. “(P.K.) has played well in the AHL, he’s learning and adjusting to the pro game, and he’s responded well.”

“I’m happy to be here”, Subban said after getting the news after a five-hour bus trip ¬†from Hamilton to Cleveland. “I learn a lot playing in Hamilton, and if the team needs me to play tonight, then I’ll be ready.”

It should be noted that the game puck drops at 6pm, to allow for TV coverage of the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Gauthie speaks on Moore trade/Andrei Kostitsyn : Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier will addressed the media on the acquisition of Dominic Moore on Friday afternoon

“Dominic is a versatile player that can play two positions,” Gauthier said. “We wanted to jump on him, rather than wait (for the trade deadline) and end up empty handed.”

Gauthier danced around the question that the centre was a rental player, saying that he spoke to Moore, and encouraged him to get a feel for Montreal and see what he thought of playing for the Canadiens before negotiating a new deal..

Moore also confirmed that Andre Kostitsyn will be allowed to continue therapy/training with the Belarusian Olympic team. He could see action provided Belarus makes it to the medal round.

Flyers re-sign Betts: The Philadelphia Flyers announced the signing of centre Blair Betts to a two-year contract extension on Friday.

“Blair has been a valuable addition to our team this year,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “He has a strong work ethic and plays an important role on our team. We are pleased to have him under contract for the future.”

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