MONTREAL — The Flyers did everything they could to get out of Brendan Gallagher’s way.
Montreal’s pesky winger scored in the opening minute of Thursday night's game on his way to his first career hat trick.
The Flyers were dismantled by the Canadiens, 5-1, picking up their first road loss since Jan. 12.
Here are my observations from Bell Centre:
• How did the Flyers simply come out not prepared to play for a second straight game? In almost identical fashion, the Canadiens looked like the Lightning from Tuesday night as Montreal scored three times in the first 10 ½ minutes.
Defensively, the Flyers showed no resistance as the Canadiens ripped their way through the neutral zone. Their first three shots of the game were goal, crossbar and goal.
• Gallagher, No. 11 for the Canadiens, was an absolute beast, completing his hat trick in the first 23 minutes of the game. He simply outworked any and every Flyer on the ice. I’d like to think the Flyers have that player in their own No. 11, Travis Konecny, who also gets under the skin of the opposition. But Konecny doesn’t have that type of motor and relentless pursuit of the puck.
Gallagher has 22 even-strength goals. Flyers center Sean Couturier leads the team with 18.
• Philippe Myers wasn’t on the ice for any of Montreal’s five goals and had already eclipsed his playing time from his NHL debut by the midway point of the second period. After Travis Sanheim made a horrible read by stepping up, which led to a 2-on-1 and the Canadiens' second goal, interim head coach Scott Gordon elected to use Myers with Ivan Provorov for several shifts.
Already looking ahead to next season, Myers is the guy who should push to be on that top pair and looks more defensively refined than Sanheim is.
• I was stunned that Carter Hart has strung together two similar clunkers in back-to-back outings, being pulled for the second straight game. One has to wonder if mental, more so than physical, fatigue is starting to set in just a little bit. From my catwalk angle, you could see that Gallagher had a wide open left side of the net on the first goal and the third goal that Hart allowed was his worst of the season, by far.
Gallagher scores from below the goal line, and Carter Hart's night is over. pic.twitter.com/buIg3svHwU— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 22, 2019
• There were some discussions that maybe Gordon might look to Brian Elliott for the Stadium Series game, but considering that Hart has the new-look special pads and the specially-painted helmet, I just don’t see it happening. The Flyers wouldn’t be this close in the standings without the play of the 20-year-old Hart. Plus, NBC is planning on interviewing his parents at the outdoor game. Let’s not mess with a good storyline.
• It was around this point of the season a year ago when Claude Giroux began to really assert himself as he went on a torrid pace that had him finish with 102 points. While Giroux wasn’t particularly bad in this game, the Flyers really need him to regain that elite level once again. With another scoreless game, Giroux has now gone four straight games without a point for the first time this season.
• It might be time for Gordon to completely revamp his lines after this game. The James van Riemsdyk-Giroux-Konecny line hasn’t worked consistently for weeks now, and Gordon even swapped JVR with Michael Raffl just five minutes into the game. It may be time to revert back to that super line of Giroux, Couturier and Jakub Voracek.
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