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Flyers at Canadiens preview and game thread: MDZ makes season debut as Montreal looks to bounce back

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The Flyers will square off against a team that took a historic beatdown on Friday night, and they’ll do so with the help of someone they haven’t had on the ice in a while.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens
Here’s to this, uh, not happening tonight.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

[PROGRAMMING NOTE: If you’re going to tonight’s Flyers-Canadiens watch party in Ardmore, enjoy! Click here for more info on the event. We now return to your regularly-scheduled preview.]

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Tonight, as the Flyers head into Montreal for (already) the second and final time this season, we’re going to get to watch one of the more interesting test cases we’ll see in an attempt to answer the question of “would you rather face a team coming off of a win or a loss?”

The Flyers, as you know, have strung together three straight wins, including two on back-to-back days earlier this week in which they scored last-minute game-tying goals before winning in overtime/the shootout. They’ve clawed their way back up to actual-.500, with 6 wins and 6 losses (1 in overtime) on the young season so far. Things are moving in the right direction.

But tonight they’ll be going up against a Montreal Canadiens team that has, for the most part, been really good this season. They beat the Flyers just 11 days ago, and they’ve only lost one game in regulation all season.

The upshot here, though, is that that one loss took place last night and was by a score of 10-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Not so good!

So yes, we’ll get a chance tonight to see how the Canadiens respond to the biggest single-game shellacking any NHL team has taken in ...

/looks in history book

... a really long time, folks. (Over 23 years, to be exact.)

In all seriousness, though the Canadiens aren’t quite as good as their outstanding record of 9-1-1, they’re a very solid team and they’ll be tough for the Flyers to beat tonight. That they’re coming home on a back-to-back helps a bit for the Flyers, who had Friday night off, but this won’t be easy.

Also, they’ll be up against Carey Price, who quite literally sat in the shadows last night and watched while poor backup Al Montoya gave up all 10 of those goals to Columbus.

Price is inarguably one of the two or three best goalies in hockey, and arguably the best, and he was the biggest reason the Flyers lost that game in Montreal last week. Also, apparently he’s a superhuman when playing on Saturdays.

Read into that what you will. In any case, goals may be at a premium tonight, no matter how the Canadiens’ skaters respond to the drubbing they received yesterday in Ohio.

Still, the Flyers have reinforcements of their own coming tonight. Michael Del Zotto will make his season debut this evening, and the Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reported that Del Zotto will skate with Shayne Gostisbehere, which very likely means Nick Schultz is the one who will be out of the lineup. It’s Del Zotto’s first regular-season game in almost nine months, and after he played top-pairing minutes for the Flyers before getting injured last season, it will be interesting to see how he fares — and how much is asked of him — in his first meaningful game action in quite a while.

We haven’t heard of any other changes coming to the lineup tonight, which means that unless we hear otherwise Dale Weise is the healthy scratch against his old team. Carchidi also mentioned that Michal Neuvirth will start tonight, marking his fourth straight start and fifth straight appearance. It seems clear the Flyers are going to get what they can out of him now until they start losing games again.

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Tonight’s game starts at 7:00 p.m. ET and is on TCN Philly and 93.3 WMMR locally. In Montreal, you can catch the game on TVA Sports or City. Anywhere else, you can watch on NHL.tv and NHL Center Ice.

For the Montreal perspective, check out Eyes on the Prize.

Philadelphia lineup

Forwards

  1. Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
  2. Travis Konecny - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
  3. Chris VandeVelde - Brayden Schenn - Nick Cousins
  4. Matt Read - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov

Defense

  1. Michael Del Zotto - Shayne Gostisbehere
  2. Ivan Provorov - Mark Streit
  3. Radko Gudas - Brandon Manning

Goalies

  1. Michal Neuvirth
  2. Steve Mason

Scratches: Nick Schultz, Dale Weise

Injured: Scott Laughton (conditioning in AHL), Boyd Gordon (LTIR), Andrew MacDonald

Montreal lineup (via)

Forwards

  1. Alexander Radulov - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher
  2. Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Andrew Shaw
  3. Artturi Lehkonen - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron
  4. Phillip Danault - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Defense

  1. Alexei Emelin - Forever Flyer Shea Weber
  2. Andrei Markov - Jeff Petry
  3. Nathan Beaulieu - Greg Pateryn

Goalies

  1. Carey Price
  2. Al Montoya