Daniel Briere faces his former team as the Montreal Canadiens host the Philadelphia Flyers in a battle of two teams seeking their first win of the season. Max Pacioretty will not play, opening the door for rookie Michael Bournival to draw into the lineup and make his NHL debut. The match can be watched at 7 p.m. EST on RDS and CBC.
Both the Habs and Flyers are coming off season opening losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Montreal dropped a 4-3 decision in a game that saw injuries to both George Parros (concussion) and Max Pacioretty (wrist). Parros is out indefinitely and will not play tonight while Pacioretty took part in the morning practice but won’t was deemed unable to play.
In the first game against the Flyers since the team bought out his contract last June, Briere has an opportunity to score his first goal with the Montreal Canadiens. It would be a special feat for the Gatineau, Quebec native for several reaseons. Briere grew up watching the Canadiens and would love nothing more than to help his boyhood team defeat the club that released him. He also celebrates his 36th birthday on Sunday and can net himself an early birthday gift with a goal in a Habs victory.
Carey Price gets his second start for the Canadiens while Emery will make his first appearance in his second stint with the Flyers. Emery is coming off a successful season with the Chicago Blackhawks where he posted a 17-1-0-3 record in the regular season. He suffered an injury late in the season and returned to the Hawks lineup in the playoffs to backup Corey Crawford on route to a Stanley Cup. In a battle with netminder Steve Mason for Philadelphia’s starting goaltender role, Emery will want to be on top of his game tonight to impress Flyers coach Peter Laviolette.
With Parros and Pacioretty out of the lineup, Ryan White and Bournival get their first start of the 2013-14 season. Expect both forwards to provide some high energy shifts on the club’s fourth line along with Travis Moen. Lars Eller looks to build upon his strong start. Eller factored into all of Montreal’s offense with two goals and an assist in Tuesday’s opening against the Leafs.
The Flyers blueline may have a familiar face in Hal Gill, who earned a one-year, $700 thousand dollar contract after a successful training camp on a PTO. Vincent Lecavalier also faces the Canadiens for the first time as a Philadelphia Flyer. While Lecavalier had discussions with GM Marc Bergevin after his contract was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, he ultimately decided to sign in Philly for more money and longer term.
Hartnell – Giroux – Schenn
Read – Lecavalier – Simmonds
Talbot – Couturier – Voracek
Rosehill – Rinaldo – Hall
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
Prust – Desharnais – Briere
Moen – Bournival – White
1) Remain Disciplined: Montreal was shorthanded seven times against the Leafs in the first game of the season. While they allowed only one powerplay goal against, Price faced 15 of 35 shots against while Toronto had the extra man. The Canadiens will be at their best this season when they can get all four lines rolling. Spending time in the box disrupts the rhythm of their system and fatigues key players. If the Habs can find themselves with the man advantage more than the Flyers, they’ll put themselves in a good position to win.
2) Protect Price: Without a doubt Scott Hartnell will be taking up residence in Price’s crease tonight. The Canadiens defense will need to clear him out to the best of their ability without taking penalties. The Flyers are well aware that Price is one of Montreal’s best players, and they will work hard to obstruct him.
3) Play the Kids: It will be interesting to see if Therrien gives Eller, Galchenyuk, and Gallagher more ice time on Saturday night. The trio was by far the best of the Habs forwards against Toronto, but didn’t get onto the ice nearly as often as the veterans. In particular, Gallagher scored but played only 11:26 minutes, the fewest among the top nine forwards. With Pacioretty out, Bournival has an opportunity to prove he should stick around. Bournival should draw into the Canadiens’ fourth line but Therrien will likely limit his time-on-ice. Nonetheless, it’s an exciting day for the 21-year-old who’s speed will surely be welcomed against the Flyers.
Milestones: Tomas Plekanec suits up for his 600th game of his career with the Montreal Canadiens tonight, while defenseman Josh Gorges will play his 400th. Andrei Markov is seeking the 400th point of his career.