Two teams trying to get some traction in the Eastern Conference go at it in Philadelphia on Thursday as the hometown Flyers host the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers have been seriously conflicted this year–at home they’ve been very good going 5-1-1. On the road, they’ve been awful going 2-4-1. They’ve basically been treading water in the past 10 games going 4-5-1. The Canadiens are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games and are 4-2-2 on the road. Both teams are coming off a win last time out.
The Flyers have put up some decent numbers on offense and rank #10 in the league in goals scored per game with 3.29. On defense, not so much ranking #19 in goals against per game at 3.14. The offense is putting pucks on opponent nets which is a good sign for their ability to maintain their offensive potency. Philly is #3 in the league averaging 34.5 shots on goal per game. The problem is on the other end–the defense has been doing their job limiting opponents to 28.4 shots on goal against–the best in the NHL.
Carter Hart will get the start here–he’s essentially split time with Brian Elliot this year but both goaltenders have put up similar numbers. Elliott is 3-2-1 with a 3.05 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Hart–who the Flyers are hoping will become their franchise netminder–is 4-3-1 with a 2.93 goals against average and a .885 save percentage. Flyers have been good on the power play at 24.1%–#5 in the league. The penalty kill is middle of the table at 83.7% which is #13 in the NHL.
Montreal’s penalty kill has been awful–#30 in the league at 68.9%. Only Detroit has been worse. The power play has been middle of the pack at 20%–#15 in the league. The Habs have been scoring goals putting up 3.67 per game ranking #4 in the league. The team defense hasn’t been that great ranked #15 in the league. Montreal gets 34 shots per game and allows 31.7 against which is #19 in the NHL. Carey Price has looked good but not great in his 12 starts this season going 7-4-1 with a 2.75 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Backup Keith Kinkaid has struggled with a 1-1-1 record, a 4.35 goals against average and a .879 save percentage. Price is expected to get the start here.
Philly’s home record is somewhat misleading. They opened the season against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague and that is considered a ‘home game’. That drops their actual home record to 4-1-1. They won three of their first four at home this year but they lost in shootout against Toronto on November 2 before betting Carolina in their last contest. Habs have won 4 of their last 5 against a good class of opposition beating Toronto and Boston at home and Arizona and Vegas on the road. They look to be the better team and we’ll back them here.