No. 8 Canadiens vs. No. 1 Flyers
3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NBCSP
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 Tatar — Nick Suzuki — Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Joel Armia
Artturi Lehkonen — Phillip Danault — Paul Byron
Alex Belzile — Max Domi — Dale Weise
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Brett Kulak — Jeff Petry
Victor Mete — Xavier Ouellet
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 Giroux — Sean Couturier — Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton — Kevin Hayes — Travis Konecny
Jakub Voracek — Derek Grant — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
James van Riemsdyk — Nate Thompson — Tyler Pitlick
Ivan Provorov — Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim — Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere — Justin Braun
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