Montreal Canadiens (11-5-1) vs Philadelphia Flyers (12-4-2)
It will be a clash of division leaders on Tuesday night as the Montreal Canadiens welcome the Philadelphia Flyers in what is arguably their toughest contest thus far this season, especially in light of the absence of Andrei Markov. This game also marks the first time the two clubs meet since the Habs’ elimination at the hands of the Flyers in the third round of the playoffs.
Last spring, as Habs fans will painfully recall, the Flyers halted Montreal’s surprise run, triumphing in 5-games and punching their ticket to the final in the process. However, Philadelphia’s equally magical post-season would eventually be put to an end versus the much deeper Blackhawks, who eventually prevailed in six hard fought games.
Le Tricolore are coming off a perfect week in which they won all three of their contests, hence propelling them to the upper-echelons of the league standings. Of even more importance, the team has obtained better support from its underachieving powerplay and forwards. The man-advantage now ranks 20th overall while Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri all have 3 points in their last two games. Tomas Plekanec continues to lead the team in scoring with 18 points in 16 games. If the Czech-center maintains his torrid pace, he is projected to reach the 90-point plateau. Carey Price, who was named the week’s first star, has been nothing short of sensational and will once again get the nod for Montreal. Thanks to his excellent play over the past seven days, the British Columbia native now ranks in the top-10 of every major goaltending category, namely wins, shutout, save percentage and goals against average.
Coming off a 5-1 win versus Ottawa last night, the Broad Street Bullies will be looking for their fourth straight win tonight. A major reason for their success if the play surprising rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a sparkling 11-2-1 record along with a .934 save percentage. But, given the back-to-back contests, it seems probable that the team will turn to Brian Boucher in goal. The Rhode Island born goaltender has been largely relegated to backup duty this season, appearing in only four games and going 1-2-1 in the process. Offensively, the Flyers pose quite a threat, ranking in the top-7 in both goals per game and powerplay efficiency while registering just over 30 shots per contest. Claude Giroux leads the team with 21 points, followed by Mike Richards at 19 points and the newly resigned Jeff Carter at 15 points.
Currently, reports place Markov’s absence anywhere between 6 weeks and 8 months. In other words, so far it is nothing more than mere speculation. In the meantime, Alex Picard will take his place at the blueline while Dustin Boyd looks set to watch another game from the press box.
Ian Laperriere is still suffering the ill-effects of a concussion and Matt Walker is out with a hip injury. Andreas Nodl is questionable while Michael Leighton, who will not dress tonight, is soon slated to come off the injured list.
Puck drops at 7:00 pm. The game is televised on RDS, regionally on TSN as well as nationally in the United States via Versus.