Less than a month into the season, the Philadelphia Flyers are gaining a reputation of being a physical team. They’re also proving to be a pretty good one, too.
The Atlantic Division-leading Flyers (7-3-0) reach the midpoint of their season-high eight-game road trip when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones will miss this game as he serves the first of his two-game NHL suspension handed down Monday for his violent hit on Boston’s Patrice Bergeron in the Flyers’ 2-1 win on Saturday.
Jones became the third Philadelphia player suspended this season. Jesse Boulerice was suspended 25 games in early October for striking Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler across the face with his stick, and Steve Downie was suspended 20 games in September for leaving his feet to deliver a deliberate and dangerous hit to the head of Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond during a preseason game.
“This is the third major incident that club’s had in 10 games,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “It’s something that has to be addressed there.”
The Flyers can even their record on the road swing after starting with losses to Florida and Tampa Bay. Mike Richards had his team-leading sixth goal of the season on Saturday, while Joffrey Lupul scored his fourth.
Philadelphia also got another stellar game from goaltender Martin Biron, who stopped 38 shots against the Bruins - 31 in the final two periods - to improve to 7-2-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average this season.
Biron, who was acquired from Buffalo in February, is 12-6-0 with a 2.04 GAA and two shutouts lifetime against the Canadiens.
The Flyers have lost three of their last four in Montreal after winning six straight there and head coach John Stevens knows they’ll be challenged.
“Montreal is always a tough place to play. They have a highly skilled team and obviously their power play is a force to be reckoned with,” he told the Flyers’ official Web site. “They come out harder than any other team in the league, and the first ten minutes we’ve got to be ready to go.”
After this game, the Flyers will play at Washington, against the New York Rangers and at Pittsburgh and New Jersey before facing the Penguins on Nov. 10 at home.
The Canadiens (6-2-3) lost to Atlanta 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday, snapping a season-high four-game winning streak. Chris Higgins scored Montreal’s second power-play goal of the game with 1:58 remaining in regulation to tie it at 2.
“We stole a point,” said Higgins, who has scored a goal in each of his last four games against the Flyers. “We didn’t deserve it at all. It was a pretty poor effort. I mean, we played decently in the third but still our power play wasn’t working and the rest of our game, the first two periods, was pretty awful.”
The Canadiens were 2-for-7 with the man advantage and have scored a league-high 19 power-play goals.
Cristobal Huet was rested on Tuesday, but has posted a 2.34 GAA in winning his last three starts. Huet is 2-1-1 with a 1.48 GAA at the Bell Center this season, and stopped 25 shots to record a shutout in his only career game against the Flyers there on Feb. 5, 2006.
He is 2-0-1 with a 2.70 GAA all-time against Philadelphia.