MONTREAL – Nothing adds fuel to an already blazing rivalry quite like playing a back-to-back home-and-home series in less than 48 hours.
Tack a “must-win” tag onto those games and the emotions will be boiling over before the opening puck drops in the City of Brotherly Love on Friday night. The Canadiens hit the road for their second-last game before the Olympic break to take on the Flyers, who sit just one point behind the Habs in the standings and hold a crucial three games in hand. If history is any indication, Montreal has the upper hand this weekend, having swept the only such back-to-back series between the two teams in 2008, including a shutout in the first outing by Carey Price
, who will get the start tonight in Philadelphia.
While the Flyers are already one of the Canadiens’ oldest rivals, a few Habs players are expecting this weekend’s pair of games to bring a little more heat to the forefront. Mathieu Darche
is used to seeing tempers flare in tough rivalries. With over seven years of AHL experience under his belt, the tenacious winger has knows how quickly home-and-home games can intensify heading into Game 2 of a series.
“There’s always animosity that carries over from the night before, but these games are just too big for both teams for anything to really get out of hand,” predicted Darche, who has seen his share of Slapshot-esque scenes unfold in the AHL. “One time, we even played the same team for three straight nights, but that was a little ridiculous.”
Newly recalled Tom Pyatt is also expecting anything but Brotherly Love over the next 48 hours against the Flyers.
“I definitely expect the intensity to be there,” agreed Pyatt, fresh off picking up his first NHL points on Wednesday night against the Capitals. “I think playing the second one at home is an advantage. If we can win the first game and come home with two points in the bank and then play in front of our fans that would be great.”
No one had to remind Jacques Martin how crucial this home-and-home series is to both clubs, with only one point currently separating the No. 6 Canadiens from the ninth-place Lightning.
“It’s important for us to realize what’s at stake here,” underlined the Habs head coach. “We’re far from out of the woods right now.”Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Tanslated by Manny Almela and Shauna Denis.See alsoCanadiens, Flyers begin home-and-home in PhillyHabs acquire Dominic Moore P.K. Subban called up by Montreal The ultimate warrior Tommy on the spot