Heading into Friday’s matinee between the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers, there were many questions surrounding both teams. After losing a tight game one 2-1, the Canadiens desperately needed increased scoring chances and production from their top-six forwards.
Claude Julien Health and Adversity
This, however, became less of an emphasis after what transpired on Wednesday night when Canadiens Head Coach Claude Julien had chess pain and was rushed to a local hospital. After receiving treatment, the Canadiens announced Julien had left the NHL bubble and returned home to Montreal. Suddenly, the Canadiens were not only down 1-0 in a tough game they deserved to win, but suddenly they were without their tactician whose systems and methods have won a Stanley Cup. Going into game two, it was hard to predict how the Canadiens would respond to double adversity.
On Friday, we got our answer. The Canadiens dominated all aspects of game two and came out flying on all cylinders, scoring 5 goals and shutting out the Flyers’ 5-0.
What Went Well
1) Nothing. Even going back through footage, I could find very little. Ivan Provorov wasn’t as bad as other players, but I wouldn’t exactly give him a “went well” tag either. Nothing seems like the most accurate answer here.
What Could Be Improved
1)The third defensive pairing
The Flyers have moved beyond the mild critic into the “something has to give” category. Whether it’s Hagg or Gostisbhere with Braun, the third pairing has continued to be abysmal. For a pairing that is expected to play more protected, limited minutes, it just isn’t working and it’s hurting the Flyers’ in this series. I still think Gostisbhere is a better option than Hagg, but maybe it’s time to sit out Braun and try some other pairing options. Braun and Gostisbhere were on the ice for two goals against once again. For the Flyers’ to be successful, this can’t keep happening.
2) Taking away high danger scoring chances
It was hard to fault Carter Hart in this one, considering just how many high danger scoring chances the opposition had against him before he was relieved in the second period. The Canadiens forwards were buzzing all night and the Flyers defense failed to keep shots to the outside. This was also a problem in game one. Carter Hart is good, but even he can’t keep up with the shot volume and quality coming his way.
3) Starting the game with pace
This was noticeably absent throughout the game. The Flyers lacked energy from the beginning and lacked overall jam throughout the contest. The Flyers are known for playing with pace and high puck pressure, but it was missing and Montreal capitalized. Sometimes afternoon games are harder on teams, but regardless, this isn’t an excuse. Game 3 is Sunday evening and the Flyers could desperately use some high energy play from the beginning.
4) The Powerplay
A potential turning point in the game was given to the Flyers’ when they received a two-man advantage for over a minute and a half. Unfortunately, they didn’t capitalize on it and the Canadiens scored quickly afterward. The Flyers’ powerplay has been abysmal for the entire return to play. No one is playing in front of the net and most shots from the defense were hitting Carey Price square in the chest. The Flyers need to get their powerplay going and quickly if they want to win this series.
5) The top two lines
The Flyers’ relied on their third and fourth lines for offense frequently in return to play action. However, that offense has dried up somewhat in this series and the top two lines are not scoring at all. The Flyers need the likes of Giroux, Couturier, Voracek, Hayes, and Konecny back on the board with regularity to get back in this series.
The Three Stars
1) Max Domi
Domi looked like a new man under Montreal Assistant Coach Kirk Muller. Domi had three assists and was all over the place in this one.
2) Jesperi Kotkaniemi
It’s hard to imagine that Kotkaniemi was in the minors when the NHL season paused. He had two goals in game 2 and showed why he was a top-five pick a few years ago.
3) Tomas Tatar
Tatar had two goals for the Canadiens and some other chances as well. He had been relatively quiet in the postseason and game 2 should concern the Flyers moving forward.
Other Important Notes
- Travis Konecny left in the third period with an apparent leg injury. He seemed unable to put weight on his left leg. Hopefully, the injury isn’t too serious. If it is, the Flyers will likely see Connor Bunnaman return to the lineup. However, I would love to see Morgan Frost be given an opportunity.
- Michael Raffl is still out with injury. His return is unknown.
- The Flyers are back in action on Sunday at 8 pm ET.