Following a shocking defeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round, the pesky Montreal Canadiens will seek to do it again and complete the Pennsylvania sweep in Round One. With the Flyers on deck, the Habs enter riding a huge wave of confidence. Despite having just a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs when the season was halted back in March, Montreal has taken full advantage of their new life.
They beat Pittsburgh in 4 games last week, mostly on the back of star goalie Carey Price. After a dismal season, Price has found the form that made him a star earlier in his career. It also helps that Claude Julien has proven to be an excellent coach, one who has a great ability to implement a game-plan designed around eradicating the other team’s skill. That could again come in handy this round.
For the Flyers, they kind of came out of nowhere to seize the top spot in the East. While many pegged this young group to improve in 2019-20, nobody could have anticipated the tear they would have been on just before the pandemic forced this pause. They’re loaded with deep scoring options, and an elite top-4 defensive corps. In goal, they have youngster Carter Hart – one of the game’s bright stars between the pipes. Alain Vigneault has done an excellent job with this team, and the scary thing is – they only seem to be getting better.
The Flyers cruised in the round robin games, seeming to be the only team taking them seriously. That could be helpful against a Montreal group that only knows an intense brand of hockey. Heading into this series, one thing is for certain though – the Flyers will not be taking Montreal lightly. After seeing them dismantle the Pens, Philadelphia should be primed and ready for an intense battle.
This series is certainly one worth watching. Can the Flyers continue their impressive form? Or will the surprising Habs steal another series? With the Canadian goaltending legend of Carey Price taking on the nation’s future between the pipes in Carter Hart, it should also provide for some exciting moments and breathtaking saves. For added coverage, and further betting insight – keep reading on for our prediction for Game 1.
Canadiens vs. Flyers Betting Odds:
Montreal Canadiens (+141)
Philadelphia Flyers (-156)
Over 5.5 (+121)
Under 5.5 (-135)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Canadiens vs. Flyers Pick:
Make no mistake about it, the Flyers are the better team in this highly-anticipated matchup. They’re deeper at every position, especially on defense, and possess a lethal top-9 of scorers that will trouble the Habs.
Montreal though has proven to be a pesky group and a very tough out. They are very quick on the puck, and can beat you off the rush, while also scoring the dirty goals. The key for Philly in this series is not giving up those high-quality chances, much like the Penguins routinely did. If Philadelphia can squash belief early and often in this series, it should be finished in 5 games.
Expect the Flyers to get off to a hot start in Game 1. It’s been a lengthy lay-off for Montreal, and Philly looked exceptional in the round robin games – perhaps the only team that did.
Look for the Flyers speed and scoring depth to eventually overwhelm a pretty brutal Montreal defense. They somehow managed to keep Pittsburgh off the board enough in the qualifying round, but the Flyers’ depth remains an issue. It’s also tough to envision Carey Price playing out-of-this-world once again. The 32-year old used to be a special talent, but can’t be trusted for consistency anymore.
Look for the Flyers’ skill and speed to simply dominate the matchup against the Habs’ 6-man defensive unit. They are slow-footed, and still relatively unproven. Beyond Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, Montreal will dress four others that are essentially replacement-quality at the NHL level, and though that sounds harsh – it’s very much true.
Philadelphia also plays excellent hockey without the puck. Derek Grant and Sean Couturier are stifling centres in the middle of the ice, while their top-4 of Ivan Provorov, Matt Niskanen, Philippe Myers, and Travis Sanheim are excellent shot suppressors. The Habs are going to find navigating the ice a lot more difficult this round.
Expect Philly to set the tone with a thoroughly impressive opening game victory. They’re the better team in all areas, and won’t allow Carey Price to steal another series from them. A full team, four-line contribution is in order for Wednesday night, as the Flyers should dismantle Montreal.
Pick: Philadelphia 5-1