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MTL@PHI: Watch out for that Flyers attack

The Canadiens will have to be meticulous against all four Philadelphia lines if they want to come home with two points in the bank

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

PHILADELPHIA - The Canadiens' defense corps faces another big test on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.

After managing to keep the NHL's hottest line at bay on Tuesday at the Bell Centre, Claude Julien's troops will have to once again shine defensively against the Flyers.

Philadelphia, which counts two former Canadiens bench bosses on its coaching staff, has scored three or more goals in 10 of its 14 games this season.

In order to counter the Flyers' attack, Julien decided to re-jig his defensive pairings. That means that Victor Mete will start Thursday's game back alongside captain Shea Weber, while Ben Chiarot will link up with Jeff Petry.

That said, the veteran bench boss could mix things up as the game progresses.

"We'll see how the game goes. We've been talking about this kind of thing for awhile. It gives us the opportunity to make changes during the game if we see the need," outlined the head coach during his pregame media availability. "The Flyers have some well-balanced lines."

Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference

Philadelphia has been enjoying quite a bit of success at home so far this season, with a 5-1-1 record at the Wells Fargo Center. Their last regulation loss at home dates back to October 19 against the Dallas Stars.

The Habs are well aware of those stats and want to shut down the play in order to take away the Flyers' opportunities.

"We know they're playing well in this building. We know they have a lot of skill. It's a matter of us, just like last game and the games previously, they have high-skilled forwards who can make plays," explained Jeff Petry, who has two goals for 10 points in 15 games this season. "We have to be tight on them, tight through the neutral zone and make sure we don't give them the opportunity to make plays. It's a game we have to focus on being strong defensively."

Video: Jeff Petry on the Flyers' high-skilled forwards

First road game for Poehling

Center Ryan Poehling will be playing his third career NHL game on Thursday, but it'll also be his first in an opposing team's rink.

The 20-year-old American took part in the team's optional morning skate and will once again pivot a line between Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Entra��nement facultatif ce matin �� Philly. Optional skate in Philly this morning.Sur la glace/on the ice:ReillyFolinWeberMetePetryFleuryKulakThompsonPoehlingKotkaniemiSuzukiWealKinkaidPrice#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/59e3kEDkqj

As the center with the biggest body on the Canadiens, Poehling hopes to use his size to his advantage.

"I think I can. I'm a bigger body, but I do play with speed as well. That combination will be good to have on this offense, especially if I'm on the forecheck, getting pucks deep and going after these defensemen," explained Montreal's first-round pick (25th overall) in 2017. "They have a very skilled team, so that's going to be a key in tonight's game.

Video: Ryan Poehling on bringing some physicality

For his part, the Habs head coach hopes the young forward keeps things simple and doesn't stray from the game plan.

"I don't want a player to change his style of play because we're on the road. We want him to play the same way. He's a guy who gets very involved physically and isn't afraid to get dirty," mentioned Julien. "It's his third game in the NHL. We just hope he gains some confidence and experience along the way."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: "Let's do it again tonight in Philly." 👊#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/86qygUqXWE

Meanwhile, Jesperi Kotkaniemi also skated in the optional on-ice session, but won't be in the lineup to face the Flyers.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: ��On esp��re que samedi soit une bonne occasion pour [Jesperi] de revenir au jeu.�� - Claude Julien"We're hoping that by Saturday [Jesperi] will be ready to play." - Claude Julien#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/gkdmAIXfLp

Julien did confirm, though, that there's a chance we could see the 19-year-old Finn on Saturday at the Bell Centre.

"We want to give him the opportunity to skate with the group again," said Julien. "We hope Saturday will be a good chance for him to come back."

The Montreal-Philadelphia showdown gets underway at 7:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.

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