At 7pm tonight the fifth place Montreal Canadiens (30-19-9) kick off a home and home series with the sixth place Philadelphia Flyers (30-22-5). The Canadiens won the first two games of the season series in convincing fashion; on November 1st by a 5-2 score and on December 13th 4-1.
Carey Price will make his second straight start for the Canadiens as coach Guy Carbonneau appears he may go with the hot hand whomever that may be down the stretch. Price was in goal for the 4-1 win over the Flyers on the 13th. 200 feet away the Flyers are expected to start Antero Niittymaki who has a 1-5 all time record versus the Canadiens.
Alex Kovalev is expected to play despite taking a therapy day to rest his ailing ankle, Kovalev leads the Canadiens in points with 55 but has hit a mini cold slide of late with just one goal and no assists in his last three games, line mates Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn have vanished as well each picking up just one goal in the last three games.
Roman Hamrlik is expected to return to the line up after missing five games with the flu and an allergic reaction to his medication. During the five games he missed Montreal’s defense was noticeably weakened allowing 17 goals in those five games which is double what the Canadiens were average when Hamrlik is in the line-up.
The Flyers have some injury concerns of their own as Simon Gagne could very well be done for the season with yet another concussion. Gagne will reportedly fly to Denver to see a specialist who will decide his fate for this year. Scottie Upshall (sprained ankle) is doubtful,
With Hamrlik back for the Canadiens the Flyers may get a double boost to their defensive corps as Derian Hatcher (knee) and Braydon Coburn (torn buttock) may both make their return tonight.
1. For a period of time between the 01′-02′ season and 03′-04′ season the Flyers dominated the Canadiens winning 9 of a possible 12 games but since then the Habs
2. However the Flyers have dominated the Habs on Saturday nights having won 3 in a row and have lost just twice in the last 14 Saturday night meetings.
3. Tomas Plekanec has 10 career assists in 10 career games against the Flyers but has yet to bulge the twin against the Broad Street Bullies.
4. Daniel Briere who is earning 10 million dollars this season is a -20, only four players in the league have a worse +/- rating.