Game 44 Preview: Montreal Canadiens @ Philadelphia Flyers

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Montreal Canadiens (25-14-5) @ Philadelphia Flyers (22-17-4), 7:30pm, CSN-Philly/TSN/RDS

The Philadelphia Flyers return home for their first home game in 2014, as they look to extend their current winning streak to three games against the Montreal Canadiens. With a win tonight, the Flyers will stay above a .500 winning percentage and extend their home winning streak to 10 games.

After Ray Emery got the nod last night, Steve Mason will be in net tonight, as Peter Budaj will be in the blue paint for Montreal. Budaj is 5-3-1 in 2013-2014 with a .923 save percentage and 2.05 GAA, as he takes on the Orange and Black for the first time this season.

Philly is taking on the Canadiens in a similar position to what they were in when the clubs met on December 12th for a 2-1 Flyers’ win. After concluding a six-game road trip, where they went 2-3-1, the Flyers hosted the Habs. It was another six-game road trip and it’s the back end of another back-to-back, but a few things are different.

For one, the Flyers are starting to look more and more like a playoff team. Thanks to the division they play in, it isn’t that big of a surprise. Also, the Flyers went 5-1-0 on their current road trip with an overtime win the night before, not a 7-2 drubbing at the hands of the Stanley Cup Champions. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing for the Flyers will have to be decided, as the Orange and Black didn’t necessarily dominate last night’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils.

Although they have been winning as of late, two trends the Flyers would like to stop are trailing first and trailing late. The Flyers have allowed the game’s first goal and trailed after two periods in each of their last three games. Luckily, they were able to grab two wins in those games. If Philly attempts that against the Canadiens things may not work out as well, as the Habs are 19-2-2 when scoring first and 21-0-3 when leading after 40 minutes.

Another crucial thing the Flyers need to do tonight is get shots on net, which is an easier concept stated than completed. When the Flyers have struggled this season, it’s often due to the fact they are over-passing or having their shots blocked. Facing a Montreal team that is first in the NHL with 856 blocked shots, an average of about 19.5 blocked shots a game, Philly will need to do a good job managing their shots. Also, it doesn’t hurt to put quality shots on a backup netminder, even if that backup is regarded as one of the better ones across the league.

If the Flyers can avoid their recent trailing trends and receive the same production from the top two lines like they have been receiving recently, the Orange and Black should extend their home winning streak to double digits.

RECORDS
Montreal Canadiens
Overall: 25-14-5
Away: 12-7-2
Against the Eastern Conference: 16-6-4
Against the Metropolitan Division: 10-2-2

Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 22-17-4
Home: 11-7-0
Against the Eastern Conference: 14-10-3
Against the Atlantic Division: 6-5-1

PROJECTED LINEUPS
Montreal Canadiens
Danny Briere – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Michael Bournival – Lars Eller – Rene Bourque
George Parros – Travis Moen – Brandon Prust

Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov – Alexei Emelin
Douglas Murray – Raphael Diaz

Peter Budaj
Carey Price

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo – Sean Couturier – Vincent Lecavalier
Steve Downie – Chris VandeVelde – Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Andrej Meszaros

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

TEAM LEADERS
Montreal Canadiens
Goals: Max Pacioretty, 19
Assists: P.K. Subban, 26
Points: P.K. Subban, 33
Power-Play Points: P.K. Subban, 15
Plus/Minus: P.K. Subban, plus-14
PIMs: P.K. Subban, 45
Average TOI: Andrei Markov, 25:26
GAA: Peter Budaj, 2.05
Save Percentage: Carey Price, .928

Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Wayne Simmonds, 14
Assists: Claude Giroux, 26
Points: Claude Giroux, 39
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux, 17
Plus/Minus: Brayden Schenn, plus-6
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 96
Average TOI: Braydon Coburn, 22:58
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.39
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .922

INJURIES
Montreal Canadiens
Alex Galchenyuk – Broken hand (six weeks)
Davis Drewiske – Shoulder (out)
Ryan White – Upper-body injury (day-to-day)

Philadelphia Flyers
Matt Read – Upper-body injury (day-to-day)
Erik Gustafsson – Knee (out)

FORMER PLAYERS
Former Flyers in Montreal’s organization
With Montreal: Danny Briere
With the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL): None
With the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL): Brooks Ostergard (Trenton Titans), Paul Cianfrini (Trenton Titans), Gentry Zollars (Trenton Titans), Drew Schiestel (Greenville Road Warriors), Mike Ratchuk (Philadelphia/Adirondack Phantoms), Alexandre Carrier (Trenton Titans), Tyler Fernandez (Greenville Road Warriors), Jacob Lagace (Greenville Road Warriors).

Former Canadiens in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: Mark Streit, Hal Gill
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Yann Danis, Zack Fitzgerald (Hamilton Bulldogs),
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): Sean Berkstresser (Wheeling Nailers), Jean-Michel Rizk (Wheeling Nailers)