The banged up Flyers travel to Montreal after receiving some more bad news this week as NHL scoring leader Claude Giroux suffered a concussion when teammate Wayne Simmonds accidentally kneed him in the head. Giroux joins three other teammates on the sidelines with the same dreaded injury of which the time line to return is always a big question mark. Defenseman Chris Pronger and rookie forward Brayden Schenn both suffered thier head injuries earlier this season and Ian Laperriere has been out since the 2009-2010 playoffs.
Despite those injuries and the offseason trades of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards the Flyers are still a powerhouse in the East leading all team with 41 points and have won 6 straight games. Philadelphia also boasts a top 5 powerplay and lead the league in total goals scored with 106; Montreal by comparison has scored just 79.
The Canadiens seem to suffer a new injury each time someone comes back. This time it was Travis Moen who suffered a foot injury against the Islanders on Monday night. He is questionable for the battle with the Flyers and with the call up of Michael Blunden one would have to think Moen will likely join forwards Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Ryan White and defenseman Andrei Markov in the press box.
Montreal and Philadelphia have split the season series with each team winning at home and holding the opposition to just a single goal. Montreal won 5-1 on October 26th and the Flyers won 3-1 November 25th.
HW’s Victory Keys
Get the lead in the 1st: Anyone who has watched the Habs this year have seen them blow countless leads but the Flyers simply do not. They have yet to lose a game this year when they hold the lead heading into the first intermission.
Production from everyone: With Travis Moen a question mark for the game it is likely Mathieu Darche will be getting top 9 minutes and the overall skill of the Canadiens lineup is not pretty when that is the case. Jacques Martin will need production from the back end and his less skilled forwards.
Special Teams: Montreal’s powerplay has looked the best it has all season since the addition of Tomas Kaberle. His calmness has seemed to spread throughout the line up. They will not only need to look good but generate a goal or two give the Canadiens a fighting chance.
Josh Gorges has 3 points in the 2 games against Philadelphia this season.
Just 8 points separate the 1st place Flyers and 9th place Canadiens as the race in the
East is as tight as ever. Just last year at this same date, the gap between the then 1st place Penguins and the 9th place Senators was 16 points.
The Flyers already have four players with 10 or more goals and 10 with five or more. By comparison, Montreal has just two with 10 or more goals and seven with at least five.