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Hanging tough

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD – The Broad Street Bullies are coming to the Bell Centre on Tuesday, but the Canadiens aren’t about to get pushed around by the Flyers.

With the Habs’ toughest test of the year to date slated for Tuesday night, Brian Gionta realizes how important every shift will be against Philadelphia. He’s also aware of how his team stacks up against the Flyers in two key categories.

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“Carey [Price] has been extremely good for us and all year he’s been keeping us in every game and giving us a chance to win. And at the end of the day, it’s a special teams battle and a goaltending battle,” explained the captain, whose netminder is coming off a performance that saw him capture the NHL’s first star honors along with a second-overall penalty-kill working at 88.9%. “It will be interesting to see. I don’t know what they have in mind or how they want to play it, but like last year in the playoffs, we have to use our depth a little more and make sure we’re outworking their top lines.

“When they have that many threats, you can’t key on one line,” added Gionta. “They have guys spread out through the lineup and guys who can score on every line. You have to make sure when you’re out there, you’re responsible no matter who you’re against.”

Despite seeing the Flyers dispose of the Sens 5-1 on Monday night, the Canadiens aren’t counting on fatigue to play a role when the puck drops at the Bell Centre. 

“We know that they played last night, but they’ve got a veteran team over there and they’ve got a lot of really good hockey players,” admitted rookie defenseman P.K. Subban. “If you look down their lineup, they’ve got some pretty solid lines. Three of those lines can be any team’s first line. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We just have to play a team game and stick to the game plan.”

Part of that game plan revolves around solving rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, whose 14 starts are second in the league behind only Price’s 16. In those games, the 22-year-old backstop has turned aside 398 of the 426 shots he’s faced for a sparkling .934 save percentage. To counteract those stats, Habs coach Jacques Martin is looking to turn the odds in his favor.

“Like with any goalie, we have to have good net front presence, and we have to get a lot of pucks to the net and force those rebounds,” outlined Martin. “We have to be disciplined tonight. It’s going to be a physical game where we’re going to need to grind it out in the trenches and win our one-on-one battles. 

“We have a strong rivalry against the Flyers, partly because of the playoffs last year and partly because the playoff series three years ago,” described the veteran coach, whose team has the edge over the Flyers with 21 hits per game. “When you play against a team in the playoffs, I think it kind of sparks a good rivalry. Last year, we played some pretty tight games against them.”

The Habs may not be dwelling on last year’s postseason loss to the Flyers, but they haven’t forgotten it, either.

“I don’t like to think about that too much. We know what we’re up against and we know what happened last year,” underlined Josh Gorges. “Obviously it’s in the back of your mind – these are the guys that ended our season. We want to go out and have a good showing, but I don’t think we’re playing with any kind of revenge or redemption. It’s another big game that we need the two points from.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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