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Canadiens Pre Game

Habs Game 78: Xhekaj Injury Forces Canadiens Roster Change

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Montreal Canadiens flyers

The Montreal Canadiens (29-36-12) are set to face the Philadelphia Flyers (36-31-11) at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

At this point of the season, fans are well aware of what they should expect on any given night.

The Canadiens will provide a solid effort despite a lack of talent, but that effort will either fade down the stretch or only kick in midway through the second period. Additionally, it’s a safe bet the top line will produce, while the rest of the lineup will fail to show up except for one or two players.

And finally, the goaltenders will play well, but it won’t be enough to turn the tide.

That was exactly the case on Sunday when the Habs lost 5-2 to the New York Rangers.

As is tradition, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Juraj Slafkovsky were the team’s lone sustained threat in the offensive zone. Mike Matheson and Alex Newhook also contributed, while Cayden Primeau did his best to hold the fort.

Simply put, if the Habs hope to take the next step in the rebuild, they will need sustained secondary offence. They’ll also want sustained tertiary offences. And finally, the best teams in the league have a few talented players on the fourth line who can help out once in a while.

The Canadiens aren’t there yet, but the good news is that it’s much easier to fill out the depth of a team than it is to formulate a solid top line. In that sense, the Habs are already ahead of the curve.

There was some good news on Tuesday, as forward Christian Dvorak will make an early return to the lineup after recovering from his lower-body injury.

Unfortunately, defenceman Arber Xhekaj will not face the Flyers, as the hard-hitting defenceman is set to undergo season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.

MUST READ: Canadiens Analysis: Suzuki’s Breakout Year & Future Projections

The Canadiens can expect to face a motivated Flyers lineup.

The playoff situation in the Eastern Conference is muddier than a pair of young golden retrievers left unattended during the spring thaw.

As it stands, the Flyers are on the outside looking in, which means there’s simply no room for error. While this is good news for the Habs from a Draft Lottery viewpoint, it also means we’re dealing with a team that has nothing to lose versus a team that is under tremendous pressure to perform. The situation can often lead to a loss for the team that can’t afford to make mistakes.

On that note, the Flyers have lost two games in a row, which has put their playoff ambitions in doubt.

Travis Konecny continues to lead the charge from an offensive standpoint, with 31 goals and 34 assists in 72 games. Owen Tippett and Joel Farabee are at or near 50 points on the season, but beyond them, there’s a clear lack of talent and production among the forwards, especially for a team hoping to make the playoffs.

To get the view from the other side of the rink we would like to invite our readers to visit our sister site, Philadelphia Hockey Now.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Carey Price (IR)
  • Chris Wideman (IR)
  • Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
  • Arber Xhekaj (out indefinitely)
  • Joshua Roy (4-6 weeks)

Philadelphia Flyers Injuries

  • Ryan Ellis (IR)
  • Sean Couturier (day-to-day)
  • Rasmus Ristolainen (IR)

 

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup

LWCRW
Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJuraj Slafkovsky
Brendan GallagherAlex NewhookJoel Armia
Jesse YlonenJake EvansJosh Anderson
Michael PezzettaChristian DvorakRafael Harvey-Pinard
LDRD
Mike MathesonJustin Barron
Lane HutsonDavid Savard
Jordan HarrisLogan Mailloux
Goalie
Samuel Montembeault
Cayden Primeau

 

Philadelphia Flyers Projected Lineup

Foerster – Froster – Tippett

Farabee – Laughton – Konecny

Lycksell – Poehling – Hathaway

Gurianov – Cates – Brink

Defence

York – Sanheim

Seeler – Drysdale

Zamula – Attard

Goalie

Ersson

 

How to Watch

TV

TSN2, RDS