3 Keys: Canadiens vs. Flyers, Game 2 of Eastern First Round


No. 8 Canadiens vs. No. 1 Flyers


Philadelphia leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

Kirk Muller will coach the Montreal Canadiens in place of Claude Julien in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Friday.

Julien was hospitalized after experiencing chest pains following a 2-1 loss in Game 1 on Wednesday in Toronto, the East hub city.

“We don’t expect [Julien] to be back during this series against the Flyers,” general manager Marc Bergevin said Thursday. “Kirk, (assistant) Dominique [Ducharme] and (assistant) Luke [Richardson] will share the responsibility. However, Kirk is the associate head coach and he will assume the responsibility of head coach until Claude’s return.”

The Flyers will try to take a 2-0 series lead for the first time since the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, when they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in their most recent Stanley Cup Playoff series victory.

Teams with a 2-0 lead are 324-51 (86.4 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series.

Here are 3 keys to Game 2:


1. Coping without coach

Canadiens players learned about Julien being hospitalized after breakfast Thursday, and defenseman Shea Weber said the news came as a shock.

But Weber, in his second season as Montreal captain, said there is trust in the coaching staff to put the players in the right position to have success.

“The other coaches, they know what our system is, they’ve put all these plans in place,” Weber said. “They’re going to do a good job leading us that way. My role won’t change much. We still have to compete the same way we’ve been going and accomplish the same thing we’re trying to do.”


2. Flyers handling pressure

Philadelphia carried the play in the first period, outshooting Montreal 11-5, but the Canadiens pushed back hard in the second, outshooting the Flyers 17-7, with a 35-13 advantage in shot attempts. 

Philadelphia was better in the third but still struggled when Montreal pressured the puck.

“The second, we got in a bit of trouble with some turnovers, not getting the puck out at the blue line, and that led to a lot of chances for them,” Flyers defenseman Justin Braun said. “I think we got back to the recipe that worked for us in the first (in the third), and that really helped us moving forward.”

Coach Alain Vigneault said the focus must be on better puck management from start to finish.

“If you don’t manage the puck well against Montreal, they could be in the top two or three in team speed in the League,” he said. “In the second period, our puck management slipped. They came at us and they came at us extremely hard. … One of our emphasis is about making sure that with the puck we’re making the right decisions, and we didn’t do it consistently, I thought.”


3. Flyers’ forward depth

With Joel Farabee‘s success on the top line, Jakub Voracek was moved to left wing on the third line. Voracek is a left shot but has stated in the past that he’s more comfortable at right wing. He scored a goal in Game 1 and for now is accepting his role.

“I liked Jake’s game yesterday,” Vigneault said. “I thought he was strong on the puck, good on the forecheck. Obviously, he’s a little bit more comfortable on the right side, but I think that there’s adjustments that are made throughout games and throughout series. At this time, we feel that’s where he can be most beneficial to our team. Overall, I thought he played a strong game.”


Canadiens projected lineup

Tomas TatarNick SuzukiBrendan Gallagher

Jonathan DrouinJesperi KotkaniemiJoel Armia

Artturi LehkonenPhillip DanaultPaul Byron

Alex BelzileMax DomiDale Weise

Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber

Brett KulakJeff Petry

Victor MeteXavier Ouellet

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Charles Hudon, Ryan Poehling, Cale Fleury, Noah Juulsen, Gustav Olofsson, Christian Folin, Cayden Primeau, Michael McNiven, Jordan Weal

Unfit to play: Jake Evans


Flyers projected lineup

Claude GirouxSean Couturier — Joel Farabee

Scott LaughtonKevin HayesTravis Konecny

Jakub Voracek — Derek GrantNicolas Aube-Kubel

James van RiemsdykNate ThompsonTyler Pitlick

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen

Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers

Shayne Gostisbehere — Justin Braun

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Connor Bunnaman, Morgan Frost, Oskar Lindblom, Mark Friedman, Robert Hagg, Andy Welinski, Egor Zamula, Alex Lyon, Kirill Ustimenko

Unfit to play: Michael Raffl

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