The Flyers should consider themselves lucky they’ve got Carter Hart in net after a tenuous 2-1 win in Game 1 on Wednesday night, they can point to a 1-0 series lead despite playing far from their best hockey in that game.
Now they’ve got a chance to take a 2-0 series lead without having to worry about heading back to Montreal to face that environment —and the refs in that environment— all while big change is happening on the Canadiens side.
Canadiens coach Claude Julien was admitted to the hospital following Game 1 after experiencing chest pains, meaning that Kirk Muller will take over behind the bench for presumably the rest of the series. We certainly wish Julien nothing but the best, but surely their coach will be on the minds of the Canadiens as they try and push forward without him at least in the short term.
While the Habs got the better of the play for the most part in Game 1 (churning out 14 more shots attempts), the Flyers used stellar goaltending from Hart, and a very timely Joel Farabee goal, to steal the opener. The power play woke up in going 1-for-3 while the penalty kill surrendered a rather quick goal at the hands of Shea Weber.
Going into the series the Flyers’ big advantage lied within the special teams battle, and that figures to have to be a key focus for Alain Vigneault’s club as they got a first-hand look at how Montreal can really be a terror at 5-on-5.
They’ll also need more from their big guns as Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux had a quiet game for their taste in Game 1. The duo saw Jakub Voracek dropped from their line and Farabee added. While Farabee ended up registering the game-winning goal —and had a nice night overall himself— both Giroux and Couturier were largely neutralized.
A few Flyers indicated that while they did go 3-0 in the round-robin, the Canadiens had a better sense of urgency coming out of the play-in round —and that they’d need to match that intensity better.
Ramping up the intensity for afternoon games hasn’t been easy for the Flyers in recent years, either, and this is a mid-afternoon start time coming at 3 pm. We’ve already seen some sleepy starts from teams playing in that time slot, so hopefully AV and his staff have them ready to go from the jump in this one or else they could be heading back
to Montreal to wearing their away jerseys with a 1-1 series.
We’ll see if the Flyers are up for the challenge in Game 2, or they’ll need to lean on their netminder’s heroics once again.
Flyers’ (subject to change) lineup:
Giroux - Couturier - Farabee
Laughton - Hayes - Konecny
Voracek - Grant - Aube-Kubel
JVR - Thompson - Pitlick
Provorov - Niskanen
Sanheim - Myers
Gostisbehere - Braun
Did you miss our pregame with Laura Saba and Scott Matla of Locked On Canadiens? Well if you did you can listen to it now, thx.