Round 1, Game 1 Preview: Flyers-Canadiens
The competitive nature and full meaning of the Round Robin games was certainly debatable over the last week. The four teams playing did not have to worry about elimination just yet. And maybe that didn't mean anything to the teams in that position.
The games did mean something to the Flyers though. While there was certainly a strategy to playing out those games to ensure health and the level of preparation for the first round, the Flyers did go out and win all three Round Robin games they played, vaulting from the fourth seed to the first seed. That set up a first-round series matchup against the shocker of this 24-team tournament on the Eastern Conference side, a meeting with the 12-seed Montreal Canadiens.
For the Flyers, they are in a new position. They are resting their playoff hopes on a 21-year-old (soon to be 22-year-old) goalie who has shown all the potential in the world to lead a run. At the other end of the ice stands his idol, veteran netminder Carey Price, who will certainly present a challenge to a franchise with a lot of young talent and entering their first playoff series in eight years as the team with the higher seed.
Game 1 is set for 8 p.m.
|Philadelphia Flyers||GP||G||A||P||Montreal Canadiens||GP||G||A||P|
|Scott Laughton||3||3||2||5||Shea Weber||4||2||2||4|
|Kevin Hayes||3||0||4||4||Paul Byron||4||1||3||4|
|Nicolas Aube-Kubel||3||2||0||2||Jeff Petry||4||2||1||3|
|Travis Sanheim||3||1||1||2||Artturi Lehkonen||4||1||2||3|
|Joel Farabee||3||1||1||2||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||4||2||0||2|
|Player to Watch|
|11 Travis Konecny||62 Artturi Lehkonen|
|Last 5 Games: 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, +3||Last 5 Games: 1 G, 2 A, 3 P, +6|
|Projected Goalie Matchup|
|79 Carter Hart||31 Carey Price|
|2 GP, 2-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .966 SV%||4 GP, 3-1-0, 1.67 GAA, .947 SV%|
Carter Hart does technically have two playoff games under his belt, but this is the real deal now. He starts his first playoff series with his idol in the other crease. So far, Hart has looked every bit the part of a top goaltender. He has allowed one goal in each of his Round Robin starts and has a .966 save percentage, which is best in the league among goaltenders with more than one start in the playoffs.
While the Canadiens series win over Pittsburgh wasn't all Carey Price, it was largely due to his performance. From the start, Price was sharp, making 18 saves in the opening period of the series. That set the tone for the rest. Price allowed just seven goals in the series - Pittsburgh had an empty-net goal as well to total eight in the series - and posted a .947 save percentage over the four-game series, capping it off with a 21-save shutout.
Flyers Projected Lineup
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|28 Claude Giroux||14 Sean Couturier||49 Joel Farabee|
|21 Scott Laughton||13 Kevin Hayes||11 Travis Konecny|
|62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel||38 Derek Grant||93 Jake Voracek|
|25 James van Riemsdyk||44 Nate Thompson||18 Tyler Pitlick|
|9 Ivan Provorov||15 Matt Niskanen|
|6 Travis Sanheim||5 Phil Myers|
|53 Shayne Gostisbehere||61 Justin Braun|
|79 Carter Hart||37 Brian Elliott|
Canadiens Projected Lineup
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|90 Tomas Tatar||14 Nick Suzuki||11 Brendan Gallagher|
|92 Jonathan Drouin||15 Jesperi Kotkaniemi||40 Joel Armia|
|62 Artturi Lehkonen||24 Philip Danault||41 Paul Byron|
|22 Dale Weise||13 Max Domi||60 Alex Belzile|
|8 Ben Chiarot||6 Shea Weber|
|77 Brett Kulak||26 Jeff Petry|
|61 Xavier Ouellet||53 Victor Mete|
|31 Carey Price||39 Charlie Lindgren|
- Flyers: Jake Voracek is going to be a game-time decision, according to Alain Vigneault, but said he is good to go for the game, so assume he plays. Vigneault did not disclose line combinations, but did say the Joel Farabee and the top line of Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux had their best game on Saturday against Tampa Bay, so don't expect that to be broken up. Vigneault also did not announce the defenseman that will be starting on the third pairing with Justin Braun, but did once again praise Shayne Gostisbehere's game on Saturday. Perhaps that's an indication of who will get the start.
- Canadiens: Head coach Claude Julien was also tight-lipped on lineups, but don't expect many, if any, changes to the Montreal lineup from their Game 4 clinching win last Friday.
- Power Play: Flyers (T-22nd), Canadiens (T-22nd)
- Penalty Kill: Flyers (5th), Canadiens (14th)
- Recent History vs. Canadiens
- Nov. 7, 2019 - Flyers 3, Canadiens 2 (F/OT) (at PHI)
- Nov. 30, 2019 - Flyers 4, Canadiens 3 (F/OT) (at MTL)
- Jan. 16, 2020 - Canadiens 4, Flyers 1 (at PHI)
- Flyers Leaders vs. Canadiens
- Jake Voracek - 31 GP, 7 G, 22 A, 29 P
- Shayne Gostisbehere - 13 GP, 2 G, 12 A, 14 P
- Claude Giroux - 36 GP, 10 G, 16 A, 26 P
- James van Riemsdyk - 39 GP, 16 G, 9 A, 25 P
- Sean Couturier - 27 GP, 7 G, 12 A, 19 P
- Carter Hart - 4 GP, 2-2-0, 2.85 GAA, .913 SV%
Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia/NBCSN
Radio: 97.3 ESPN
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.