Flyers-Canadiens: 5 things you need to know

Flyers-Canadiens: 5 things you need to know

October 5, 2013, 10:00 am
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Updated: 1:33 p.m.

The familiar No. 48 that Flyers fans have grown accustomed to won’t be on an orange and black sweater Saturday evening.

Danny Briere will face the Flyers (0-1-0) for the first time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens (0-1-0) when the puck drops at 7 p.m. at Bell Centre. The game will be televised on CSN.

With both clubs searching for its first win of the 2013-14 campaign, here are five things you need to know about Saturday’s contest:

1) A familiar face
It’s going to be an emotional night for Briere, who was bought out by the Flyers this past offseason before signing a two-year, $8 million deal with the Habs.

When Briere became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2007, it was widely speculated that Briere would return to his home province and play for Montreal. Instead, he inked an eight-year, $52 million contract with the Flyers.

In six seasons with the orange and black, Briere potted 124 goals and collected 159 assists in 364 regular-season games. But it was the playoffs where Briere really made a difference. He compiled 72 points in 68 playoff contests as a Flyer.

Briere on Friday discussed competing against his former teammates for the first time this season (see story).

“It’s never easy when you face ex-teammates," Briere said. "I remember my first few games facing Buffalo with the Flyers, they were always tough games, mentally to get ready for and also on the ice. You have to shut off the fact they’re you buddies and try to move on for that three-hour span.”

2) Fresh legs
Both the Flyers and Canadiens are coming off season-opening losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs, so the two clubs should be fresh for Saturday’s matchup.

The Canadiens fell to the Leafs, 4-3, in a fight-filled contest on Tuesday. Lars Eller led Montreal offensively, scoring two goals and assisting Brendan Gallagher’s first-period tally.

In a scary moment during the third period, Canadiens enforcer George Parros was carried off the ice on a stretcher after he fell on his face during a bought against Leafs tough guy Colton Orr.

Parros sustained a concussion and won’t be available against the Flyers. Defensemen Douglas Murray (upper body), Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and wingers Steven Quailer (undisclosed) and Christian Thomas (undisclosed) are also out for Montreal.

The Leafs spoiled the Flyers’ home opener on Wednesday by handing the orange and black a 3-1 defeat. Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier gave the Flyers fits the entire night, turning aside 31 shots. Brayden Schenn netted the Flyers’ lone goal -- a power-play marker assisted by newcomers Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit.  

3) Get even
A contributing factor to the Flyers’ loss in the opener was the 1-for-7 display on the man advantage. The power-play units, however, did generate 13 shots and plenty of chances and looked good overall.

A bigger concern for the Flyers was their 5-on-5 play. After controlling the tempo for the first half of the game, the Flyers struggled to win battles along the boards and couldn’t get much going in their offensive zone for much of the second period and parts of the third.

The Flyers’ special-teams units were towards the top of the NHL in the lockout-shortened season last year, but it was their even-strength play that was a sizable reason why the club failed to make the postseason. It’s something worth keeping an eye on.

4) Other connections
Briere is the only player on Montreal’s roster that has spent time with the Flyers. Prior to signing in Philly, the soon-to-be 36-year-old faced off against the orange and black 16 times in his career during the regular season. He had nine goals, nine assists and was minus-2 in those games.

The Flyers have a pair of defensemen that used to suit up for the Canadiens -- Streit and Hal Gill. Streit was drafted by Montreal in the 2004 NHL draft with the 262nd pick. He spent three seasons with the Habs before joining the New York Islanders as a free agent in 2008.

Gill, who is expected to be a healthy scratch Saturday, spent parts of three seasons in Montreal. He was dealt to the Nashville Predators on Feb. 17, 2012, in exchange for Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a second-round pick in 2012.

5) This and that
• The Flyers took two of three meetings against the Canadiens last season, outscoring Montreal 13-10 in the process. The two clubs will square off three times in 2013-14.

• Jakub Voracek had the Canadiens’ number last season. In three games, Voracek had two goals and four assists while averaging over 17 minutes a contest. Claude Giroux had a goal and three assists in the season series.

• The Flyers had trouble containing Max Pacioretty in 2013. The Canadiens’ forward had a goal and assisted five more in three games. David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher combined for four goals and two assists, as well.

• As it turns out, the Flyers won't have to deal with Pacioretty on Saturday. He is sidelined with a wrist injury.

• Ray Emery will make his first start of the season for the Flyers.