Thanks to their huge letdown on Friday, not only did the
Flyers miss out on a quality opportunity to make up ground in the standings, but
it puts added pressure on the club to come away with points in the second half
of a back-to-back. That’s no simple task considering they’re on the road and the
Montreal Canadiens are up next in the gauntlet.
The Bullies find themselves back in scramble mode after blowing
a 3-1 first-period lead in New Jersey last night, a roller coaster contest not
entirely unlike the ride their season is on. The Devils got the scoring started
40 seconds into the game, but Philadelphia responded with a three-goal outburst
in a two-and-a-half minute span. Then the lead slowly, painfully slipped away.
The ill-timed pulling of Ilya Bryzgalov from goal was the
last straw, resulting in a quick empty-netter and the final nail in their 5-3 defeat.
Now it’s on to Montreal, to take on an opponent who was idle no less.
The Canadiens are in the midst of a revival after finishing
with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference for 2011-'12. Building off of a
6-3-6 finish last year, Montreal has jumped out to an early 8-4-1 record, and
are sitting just one point behind Boston for first place in the Northeast
A big reason for their success has been in net, where Carey
Price appears to be back on track after his rough '11-'12, leading all NHL
goaltenders in wins with eight. Fortunately for the Flyers, it appears they’ve
caught a break there.
TSN’s Cassie Campbell reports Price is battling the flu, and
backup Peter Budaj will make the start. Budaj is 0-1-1 with a rough 4.32 GAA
and .866 SV%. The eight-year veteran made one start against the Flyers for
Montreal last season, surrendering four goals in a loss. Danny Briere paced his
mates with two power-play tallies, while Matt Read and Kimmo Timonen also lit
Other than the day-night situation in net, the Canadiens have
been a solid all-around team, despite the roster lacking a lot of star power.
Veterans center Tomas Plekanic (11) and defenseman Andrei Markov (10)) lead the
team in points, but they are getting sizeable contributions from rookie
forwards Alex Galchenkyuk (8) and Brendan Gallagher (6).
This game's outcome could hinge on special teams even more than usual, as no team in
the league has drawn more whistles on average than Montreal – both ways – while
the Flyers are ninth in total power play opportunities, seventh in times
short-handed. Both teams are middle of the road-ish in all conversion rates, so
we’ll see who’s on their game or gets the calls/bounces.
In other news, Timonen did not play the third period of last
night’s loss in New Jersey due to an unknown lower-body injury. No update yet
about his availability tonight, but currently he is described as day-to-day. With
Andrej Meszaros still a week or two away, the Flyers look very thin on the back
end if Kimmo can’t go. [Update: Erik Gustafsson was called up from Adirondack and is in the lineup, but not necessarily for Timonen.]
No confirmation just yet on who will be in goal for the Flyers, either. Bryz had ordinary numbers in two appearances versus Montreal last season (1-1, 3.02, .885), and while we wouldn't lay the blame on him for last night's disaster, it wasn't his best outing of the year. We'll see if Brian Boucher gets the cal for his first start this year. [Update: it's Boosh.]
Big two points on the line here, as Philadelphia is still
hovering around the basement. When the final horn sounds, they will have
completed exactly one-third of their schedule, so very soon these playoff races
are going to get serious.
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