The Flyers head into Friday night’s game still looking for a ticket into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
After a gritty Game 5 on both ends of the ice, the Flyers and Canadiens head into their sixth matchup against one another with everything to play for — the Flyers being a trip to that second round and the Canadiens on the brink of being sent home.
Let’s dive into the essentials:
• When: 7 p.m. ET with Big Philly Pregame at 5 p.m. ET • Where: Scotiabank Arena • Broadcast: NBC10 • Live stream: nbcphiladelphia.com
• Thursday night, Matt Niskanen was suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for crosschecking Canadiens Brendan Gallagher in the third period of Wednesday night’s game.
Earlier that day, the Canadiens announced that the forward suffered a broken jaw and will miss the remainder of the series.
Shayne Gostisbehere is expected to fill that open spot on the blue line in place of Niskanen. Heading into tonight’s game, head coach Alain Vigneault has full faith that he’ll handle the responsibility well.
“In the games that we’ve used him, he’s played well,” Vigneault said Friday afternoon. “He’s had a real good attitude, a team-first attitude and tonight he’s gonna get a chance to play, so I’m confident he’s going to play well for us.”
However, there is still uncertainty over how the defensive pairs will adjust. More importantly, who will share the top pair alongside Ivan Provorov. Regardless, Vigneault emphasized the importance of tonight’s outing to be a complete group effort.
“This is going to be done by committee,” Vigneault said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in our group. Whether it be Provy, whether it be Travis [Sanheim], whether it be Phil [Myers], Robert [Hagg], Ghost, Justin [Braun] — I mean, all of those guys are strong players, good players. They want to compete, they want to do well and I’m sure they’re going to step up tonight.”
• The only true silver lining that came out of Game 5 was an effective power play. After scoring just one goal through 17 chances in the series, they found the back of the net three times Wednesday night.
Their best chances on the power play have come when getting right in front of Carey Price. From taking up space in the crease to setting up screens in front to take away his sight — it’s ideal the Flyers take the momentum and what they’ve learned thus far and run with it.
• Game 5 was a strong stepping stone to get some of the top talent on the Flyers rolling in the playoffs. Jakub Voracek had a 3-point night (2 goals, 1 assist) and both Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier had 2 assists.
It’s imperative that additional players like Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny make their way onto the score sheet. As the two leading goal scorers in the regular season for the Flyers, both have yet to get one past goaltender Carey Price. As they prepare for Game 6, they only have one assist each in the series.
• Carter Hart already proved his ability to bounce back after a less than ideal outing in Game 2 with posting back-to-back shutouts.
He is the one who should rightfully start in net tonight for the Flyers. The back-to-back in this series was also the first of Hart’s career, in which he played in both games. Having a 22-year-old in net that is as mentally tough as he is, allowing him the chance to right the wrongs in the previous game is the best way to help him learn and grow.
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny Claude Giroux-Derek Grant-Scott Laughton Connor Bunnaman-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick
Ivan Provorov-Philippe Myers Travis Sanhiem-Shayne Gostisbehere Robert Hagg-Justin Braun
Carter Hart Brian Elliott