The first round of the NHL playoffs is coming closer to an end. Two games will be on August 21, both with the series on the line. One of these matchups will be between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens. These two teams have met in an exciting five game series so far, and I expect a good finish. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Flyers finished out the regular season with a record of 41-21-7, which had them in fourth place of the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia was able to win all three of their round robin games to then secure the top spot in the East. The Flyers have jumped out to a 3-2 series lead against the Canadiens and will look to secure a spot in the next round with a win on Friday night.
Montreal posted a record of 31-31-9 throughout the regular season, which had them in twelfth place of the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens met up with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Qualifying round and eliminated them in a shocking four game series. Montreal has kept that momentum up as they hold onto a chance in this series.
These two teams are coming off a real physical Game 5 appearance, which should lead to a good one on Friday night. I expect both teams to come out with a lot of intensity as they try and earn a huge win. Montreal is coming off a win in the last game, so look for them to have some momentum early. The Flyers will look to grab an early lead to force the Canadiens to play from behind.
Game 1 of this series was back on August 12. Jakub Voracek opened up the scoring for Philadelphia, but Montreal bounced back with a goal by Shea Weber. Joel Farabee scored less than a minute later to give the Flyers the lead back. Carter Hart stopped 27 of 28 shots to help give Philadelphia a nice 2-1 win.
The second game of this series was on August 14. Tomas Tatar scored twice, including the opening goal to give Montreal a lead. Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored two goals as well, while Max Domi had three assists and Victor Mete had two assists. Carey Price finished with a 30 shot shutout to help propel the Canadiens to a 5-0 win.
The third matchup between these two teams was on August 16. Jakub Voracek scored five minutes into the first period with assists from Claude Giroux and Robert Hagg. Carey Price then went on to stop 19 of the 20 shots he faced, which was not enough. Carter Hart stopped all 23 shots he faced as Philadelphia won 1-0 to take the series lead back.
Game 4 of this series was on August 18. Michael Raffl and Philippe Myers both scored for the Flyers, which would be enough to help give Philadelphia another win. Carey Price had another strong night, stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced, which was still not enough. Carter Hart finished with another 29 shot shutout as the Flyers won 2-0.
The most recent game in this series was Game 5 on August 19. Jakub Voracek had two goals and an assist, while Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier both had two assists. It was not enough though as Montreal’s offense found some footing. Joel Armia scored twice, while Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist. Jonathan Drouin and Brett Kulak both had two assists to help give the Canadiens a 5-3 win.
Philadelphia had a nice special team unit throughout the regular season. The Flyers put up a 20.8 percent success rate on the power play, while killing off 81.8 percent of the penalties against them. Philadelphia’s power play has struggled in the playoffs, putting up an 11.4 percent power play. The Flyers penalty kill has killed off 82.9 percent of the penalties against them in the postseason.
The Canadiens special teams was not great throughout the regular season. Montreal capitalized on 17.7 percent of their power play chances on the regular season. The Canadiens also killed off 78.7 percent of their opponent’s power play chances. In the playoffs, Montreal’s power play has succeeded at a 12.9 percent rate, while earning an 82.9 percent kill rate.
These two teams have put up very similar special team rates throughout the postseason. The Canadiens have actually had a bit better of a power play, but it has still been nothing special. Montreal and Philadelphia got chippy in Game 5, so there could be a lot more penalties in Game 6. If either team can get the power play going, it could earn them the win in this one.
Carter Hart will get the start in net for the Flyers in this matchup. Hart finished out the regular season with a record of 24-13-3. He posted a save percentage of .914 and a 2.42 GAA throughout those games. Since the playoffs began, Hart has earned a .944 save percentage and a GAA of 1.66. Hart will look to keep these numbers up as Philadelphia looks to move on.
Carey Price will get the start in the crease for Montreal in Game 6 of this series. Price put up a record of 27-25-6 throughout the regular season. He posted a .909 save percentage and a 2.79 GAA throughout those starts. Price has stepped up his game in the playoffs, putting up a save percentage of .943 and a GAA of 1.64, which has helped push the Canadiens this far.
These two goalies are playing at an elite level, which has helped their respective teams make it so far. Hart and Price are looking to keep these numbers up as they play in a big Game 6. Both goalies did not have their best performances in Game 5, but I would expect them to bounce back on Friday night.
Montreal has been able to stay alive in this series so far, but I believe that the Flyers have good chance to end this magical run on Friday night. Philadelphia is coming off a tough loss in their previous game, and I expect them to bounce back in Game 6. The Flyers have a deeper team, which should help propel them to the next round.
BetOnline has the Flyers listed as a -129 against the money line in this one. This implies that Philadelphia will win this game around 56.3 percent of the time. I agree with this line, but I do not think it has the most value. The Flyers are also -1 ½ at +200 in this game. I expect Philadelphia to grab an early lead and play on it, which will give them a chance to at bury an empty net goal if they need to cover late.