Friday, 25 November 2011

Snapshot Preview: Habs vs Flyers - November 25th 2011

Montreal Canadiens (10-9-3) at Philadelphia Flyers (12-6-3)
Puck drop is at 3:00pm EST

The last time these two teams met, Montreal put on a pretty dominant performance at home winning 5-1.

Jaromir Jagr had Philly's only goal in that game - but he's unlikely to play this afternoon. Jagr has looked like an older version of one of the most dominant players to ever play the game thus far in his return to the NHL. After a three year absence and at his advanced age it has come as a surprise to most casual and non casual fans that Jagr 17 pts in 19 games. (6 goals, 11 assists). What hasn't been surprising though is that he has been hampered by a groin issue in recent days. He hasn't played such a compressed schedule in three years and at 39 years of age it's a tough physical change to re-adjust. Should he play, Jagr has historically been a Habs killer amassing 81 points in 68 games. (40 goals, 41 assists).

Both Flyers goaltenders have had 4 career meetings vs the Habs and their career stats seem to be mirror opposites. Ilya Bryzgalov (0-3-1, 3.75gaa, .862 sv% ) has never beaten them, while Sergei Bobrovsky (2-1-0, 2.68gaa, .920 sv%) has put up some decent numbers. Bobrovsky with his .892 sv% hasn't exactly set the world on fire this season, and the Flyers cleared house to be able to sign Bryzgalov this summer. While he also hasn't been a vezina candidate, I'd look for the flyers to start their number 1 at home.

Carey Price (7-4-0, 2.22gaa, .931 sv%) has thus far had a pretty strong career vs Philadelphia. In the only other meeting between the two teams this season he made 21 saves en route to the victory. Price had 2 shutouts last week and was named the first star on the National Hockey League. Expect him to the the start in goal.

Max Pacioretty had a 3 point night (2 goals, 1 assist) when the teams last played and has put up 4pts (2 goals, 2 assists) in 5 career games vs Philly. Pacioretty has cooled some after getting off to a hot start this season, while his linemate Erik Cole (6 goals, 6 assists) has looked like the Habs best player on most nights over the last 15 games.

Both teams had come from behind victories on Wednesday night with the Flyers taking out the Islanders 4-3, and the Canadiens beating the Hurricanes by the same score in a shootout. The Flyers are 6-2-2 in the month of November but they have been outscored 8-2 in the first period of their last three games. Montreal meanwhile is 6-4-1 in Novemeber and has seen them very impressively not surrender a goal on the penalty kill since Nov.5th in New York - a string of 42 consecutive PK's. I hate to dump on ex-Habs assistant coach Perry Pearn, however, the Penalty Kill which he used to run has killed 52/54 penalties since he was fired (a success rate of 96.3% - after a success rate of only 80% under Pearn (28/35).

Scott Gomez will not play for Montreal, while Chris Campoli, Andrei Kostitsyn and Andrei Markov continue to rehab their various injuries. With no call up by Montreal, look for Frederic St-Denis to get back into the lineup this afternoon, with Yanik Weber dressing as a forward.

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