Game 2 of the hotly contested Flyers/Canadiens series goes down Friday afternoon, with many thoughts and well-wishes sent in the direction of Montreal coach Claude Julien.
The Habs’ bench boss was forced to leave the bubble Thursday morning with ‘chest pains’ and as a result will no longer be coaching Montreal for the remainder of the series. All reports involved suggest it isn’t related to the COVID-19 virus, and thankfully initial reports say he is progressing. Kirk Muller will take over head coaching duties in his absence.
That is a tough loss from a strategic standpoint too, as Julien has done well in recent weeks with this Montreal team. They’ve played above their potential, employing a stifling and tight-checking defensive game to frustrate more skilled opponents.
In Game 1, the Flyers edged out a narrow 2-1 victory, but the Habs played very well in the second-half of that contest. Philadelphia seemed troubled by Montreal’s speed up front, and how quickly they were fronting their defense for loose pucks.
You never want to go down 0-2 in a series, so desperation will be high for these pesky Habs in Game 2. You can also be sure that they’ll be primed and ready to ‘Win for Claude’ and to rally around their beloved bench boss. Can Montreal pull another shocker and even-up the series against the East’s top seed? Read on beneath the posted odds for our take on that, as well as a betting analysis and prediction for a crucial Game 2 showdown. Enjoy!
Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers Odds:
Montreal Canadiens (+139)
Philadelphia Flyers (-154)
Over 5 (-135)
Under 5 (+115)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers Pick:
Make no mistake about it, though the Habs started out slowly in Game 1 – they came on very strong towards the end and finished as the better side. While that might seem shocking given the fact that the Flyers are the 1-seed, and Montreal enters as the 12-seed, it really isn’t if you look at the underlying statistics from these teams this past season.
Montreal surprisingly was one of the best teams in the entire league at 5v5 play, both generating and suppressing scoring chances at top-3 rates. Their issues have been tied to special teams and shooting percentage. They’re a hungry and motivated group, but at times the talent does lag behind.
For Philly though, they have excellent shooters and skilled, scoring depth. That said, a malaise seeped into their game in the series opener, and surely they’ve realized they need to be a little harder on the puck against a ferocious Montreal side.
Montreal won the expected goals battle in Game 1, created double the high-danger scoring chances, and controlled the entire game-flow as well. The Habs trouble teams by rolling out four-blazing lines, that use their speed and tenacious puck-hounding ability to get in quickly on forechecks and retrieve loose pucks.
The Flyers can and will continue to struggle with that. Though they do have a solid defense corps, many are big and not as mobile as you’d like. The Habs’ speed caused great trouble, and led to many chances generated from retrievals off of the forecheck.
In the betting market right now, it’s beyond obvious that the Flyers are being highly overrated, while value still exists on the underdog Canadiens. Expect the Habs to again control the 5v5 territorial play, generate more scoring chances, and this time solve Carter Hart on a more regular basis.
Pick: Montreal 3-1