GAME PREVIEW: Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

The Game: Quite simply, this is the game.  The Flyers and Canadiens, two teams battling for an elusive spot in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, go head-to-head tonight at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

The Flyers and Canadiens each enter this game off a loss to a bottom feeder club in the Eastern Conference, as the Flyers were smacked 6-4 last night by the New York Islanders and the Habs lost a 2-1 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.  Tonight, however, they two squads will solely be focused on one another.  There is no scoreboard watching – there doesn’t need to be.  The winner of tonight’s game automatically moves into sole possession of the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.  However, although both teams have lost their most recent game, it seems the Canadiens have the edge coming into tonight’s game.  While the Flyers currently hold the sixth seed, given the fact that have more wins than Montreal, the Habs have simply been more deserving of the sixth seed recently.  They are 5-3-2 in their last ten, while the Flyers are 2-6-2.  Montreal has 37 wins this season; the Flyers, 38.  It’s up to the Flyers to show they are deserving of playoff action with a solid game tonight.

The Story: This is one of those types of games that is inevitably met with the old cliche of: “if you can’t get up for this kind of game as a player, then you shouldn’t be playing the game.”  It’s true to the last drop.  The Flyers and Canadiens – two prestigious NHL franchises, are both in danger of missing the playoffs and putting a scar on their organizations heading into next season.  Neither obviously want to miss out on playoff hockey, so look for both teams to be more than raring to go when it comes to getting the job done tonight.  Of course, the Flyers have the “X” factor, being on home ice.  The Wachovia Center should be in a fervent playoff atmosphere tonight and that hopefully will add to a little bit of jump in their step.  The one major concern is that the Flyers are playing the second of back to back games and that if this game is tight in the late stages – which you can probably expect will be the case – the Flyers will likely be gasping for air.  That’s not a good scenario to be in because the Canadiens are a team that relies upon skating past you as opposed to skating through you, and if the Flyers are at all fatigued in this game, Montreal will certainly make them pay.

Who to Watch on the Canadiens: Michael Cammalleri, Left Wing.

Cammalleri is one of the quickest forwards in the game

Cammalleri is one of the more prolific snipers in the game today.  He’s currently working on the Canadiens’ first line as well as their top powerplay unit and has enjoyed a very successful season in Montreal – his first in a Canadiens sweater.  The 27 year old Cammalleri has 26 goals and 24 assists and is incredibly dangerous whenever he has the puck on his stick.  He enjoyed two strong seasons before joining the Habs this past off-season in Free-Agency, as he tallied 19 goals for the Los Angeles Kings two years ago, and then made a huge jump last season when he scored 39 times for the Calgary Flames.  As I said earlier, the Canadiens love to skate by their opponents and attempt to cut towards the net from the outside as opposed to the middle.  Look for Cammalleri to show the viewers tonight exactly what I mean.

The Skinny: This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season, as the Flyers currently lead the season series, with a record of 2-1-0 against Montreal.  The Flyers’ two most recent wins were by virtue of sweeping a home and home series with the Canadiens that marked the last two games the Flyers played before breaking for the Olympics for most of February.  Regardless, the Flyers and Canadiens were each much different teams back then, and each team appears to be heading in a slightly different direction tonight.

Notes: Peter Laviolette hasn’t announced tonight’s starter for the game tonight and Montreal has yet to announce theirs, either.  Carey Price played solid for Montreal in a 2-1 loss Wednesday night, but don’t be shocked if Jaroslav Halak is the goaltender in between the pipes tonight.  I expect we’d see Boosh in goal for the Flyers, but if Caron does clear waivers, you never know.  Carcillo is still out, as he serves the second half of his two-game suspension, and it’s reasonable to expect Riley Cote to once again appear in the line-up.

Jim Jackson, Keith Jones, and Steve Coates have the call on Comcast SportsNet from the Wachovia Center at 7 PM EST.


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