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

Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Game 72: Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Flyers region: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Streaming: ESPN+, RDS, TSN+

Starting a road trip with just a single point versus the three Canadian teams in the Pacific Division, the Montreal Canadiens managed to recover to a .500 record on the U.S. leg of their tour with wins over the Seattle Kraken and the Colorado Avalanche. Montreal began that trip with three of the top four teams in the Western Conference on the docket. Now they return home to face five of the Eastern Conference’s playoff teams over the next 10 days.

They start off versus a club that probably would have been rebuilding if John Tortorella weren’t at the helm refusing to let the walls come down. The club has been playing above its station all season long, and now just has to hold on for nine more games to make it into the post-season.

Tortorella saw the structure beginning to crumble a few weeks ago and made the decision to scratch captain Sean Couturier from the lineup. They were in the midst of a tough sequence of games — versus many of the same teams Montreal will face on the current homestand — and a prolonged funk could have dropped the Flyers out of the playoff picture. The record in the five games that followed ended up being 2-1-2, good for six points that currently have Philadelphia as the third seed in the Atlantic Division and three points up on the Detroit Red Wings, who sit ninth in the East.

Canadiens Statistics Flyers
27-32-12 Record 36-27-10
44.8% (28th) Scoring-chances-for % 51.1 (15th)
2.70 (28th) Goals per game 2.92 (23rd)
3.37 (26th) Goals against per game 3.05 (17th)
17.5% (25th) PP% 13.4% (32nd)
76.5% (23rd) PK% 84.1% (3rd)
0-0-1 Head-to-Head Record 1-0-0

Goaltender Samuel Ersson has been doing his best for the team in his first NHL campaign, though still holding just an .895 save percentage. The bigger defensive story is coming from the effort in front of him. Philadelphia ranks second in the league in shots against, allowing just 27.7 per contest, and Ersson himself is the third-least-tested netminder among those to start at least 15 games with 26.2 shots against per 60 minutes in all situations. The defensive play holds up when the Flyers play a man short, as the team is responsible for the third-best penalty kill in the NHL. That defensive play is the element Tortorella knows is keeping the Flyers competitive, and why he felt the need to take such drastic action to correct it after back-to-back games seeing six goals against.

Things didn’t go well for the Canadiens the last time they faced one of the league’s top defensive squads. They had a difficult time getting anything going versus the Vancouver Canucks, registering just 12 shots on goal over the final 40 minutes despite facing a two-goal deficit. The key will be to push out to an early lead so the Flyers don’t get a chance to lock the game down.

Hot starts have been a feature of the Habs’ current stretch of consecutive wins. Even with a quick goal allowed to Nathan MacKinnon on Tuesday, Nick Suzuki erased that lead in rapid fashion. The question will be whether the Canadiens can bring the same effort they showed on the road back to the Bell Centre, which hasn’t been the case at times this season.

Motivation should be there for Suzuki to get his 30th goal of the season, and for Juraj Slafkovsk√Ĺ to continue his point streak and set a new season/career high of nine. Joel Armia has been playing well no matter the situation or opponent, though he does have just a single goal and an assist in 13 games against Philadelphia, and didn’t register any shots versus the team back on January 10. Tonight would be a good time to change his narrative versus the Flyers the way he has with his improved play this season.

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