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Flyers at Canadiens preview: Boy, that was a short-lived breakup

The Flyers will open up the road portion of their schedule by visiting their recently-bought-out center, Danny Briere, in his new digs in Montreal. Meanwhile, Ray Emery will be making his debut in net.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the Flyers opened up their season with a close home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Today, in their second game of the year, they'll face ... a team that opened up its season with a close home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, just a day before the Flyers did.

Philadelphia Flyers (0-1-0, 0 pts) at Montreal Canadiens (0-1-0, 0 pts)
7 p.m. | Centre Bell | Montreal, Quebec, Canada
TV: CSN Philly, CBC, RDS | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Montreal perspective at Eyes On The Prize

And in this game against the Montreal Canadiens, we'll have our first reunion with an old, recently-departed friend: Danny Briere. Briere opened the season with his childhood team in that game last Wednesday, and didn't do a whole lot of note in that game, but you can bet that we'll hear a lot about his time in Philly during the game tonight.

While he shifted around with a bunch of different forwards, he spent a good amount of time on the team's top line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. We'll see where he is tonight -- Pacioretty left that game on Tuesday with injury troubles at one point, though he's reportedly a game-time decision for this one and I feel like game-time decisions usually end up playing. So chances are Briere will be on that same top line again. and apparently will not be in the lineup this evening. How the Canadiens shuffle Briere and the rest of their lineup is anyone's guess.

But anyways. There are more important things for the Flyers to worry about than what their former center is up to. Avoiding an 0-2 start would be quite nice, especially since it doesn't get immediately easier with this game being the first half of a road back-to-back.

There were mixed takeaways from Wednesday's loss -- the dominance of the team's second forward line and the strong effort from its power play among the positives, the worsening as the game went on and the defensive breakdown on the game-winning goal highlighting the negatives. It'll be interesting to see what's the same and what changes from the opener. Especially against a Canadiens team that's largely unchanged from last season -- which is OK, since the Flyers played the Canadiens pretty well last season despite them being a pretty darn good team on the whole.

We don't quite know what the lines will look like for the Flyers today, and the ones to the right are what the team ran on Wednesday. But here are the key variables there, roughly in order of importance:

  • Where does Jakub Voracek spend most of his ice time? He started Wednesday's game on the third line and played only 9:25 of even-strength time in the game (to go with seven minutes on the power play). You'd have to think that Peter Laviolette is limiting his minutes, due at least in part to the (left) back injury Voracek suffered in the preseason. That said, Jake was still outstanding when on the ice on Wednesday (the Flyers had a 14-3 edge in shot attempts with him on-ice at even strength), and the team had bumped him up to the top line by the time with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell the game ended. If he's any healthier, we may see him there for the duration of this one.
  • Does the rest of the top-9 stay the same? The Wayne Simmonds-Vincent Lecavalier-Matt Read combination was nothing short of outstanding in its first go-around, and if Wednesday was any indication it'd be nuts to break them up. But if Voracek moves to the top line, Brayden Schenn -- the team's lone goal-scorer in this young season to date -- may have to drop down to the third line with Sean Couturier and Max Talbot unless Lavi breaks up that second line. Lots of pieces to take into account.
  • Who's the twelfth forward? Kris Newbury was recalled in light of Scott Laughton's demotion, and he has a slightly more impressive NHL track record than Jay Rosehill does. But Rosehill is bigger and tougher and more truculent, so he may get the nod, because Flyers.

So yeah. Some decisions are to be made there. Meanwhile on defense, I'm guessing things will stay the same as they were -- Timonen-Coburn, Streit-Schenn, Meszaros-Grossmann.

Ray Emery is your starter in net tonight, a fact that the Flyers announced via Instagram which apparently makes them horrible people who don't deserve to have a charity event covered.

Canadiens' lines from Tuesday in the box above, with the aforementioned caveat about Pacioretty not playing. Carey Price is the starter in net for the Habs.

Questions to Answer:

  1. Emery's second stint with the Flyers starts tonight. How's it go?
  2. Is the power play still awesome?
  3. Is the second line close to as dominant as it was on Wednesday? Meanwhile, which other line shows up?
  4. Defense. Not too bad as a whole in the opener. How about today?
  5. What's Danny Boy do out there against his old team?

Puck drop at 7. Game thread around 6. Go check out Eyes On The Prize for the Habs' side of things. Go Flyers.

(SIDE NOTE: If you want more thoughts on Danny Briere, the fine folks at EOTP recently asked me a few questions about him and I gave them some answers. Click here to read those.)