Canadiens host struggling Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers' roller-coaster season hit another low point on Saturday with an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Capitals.
Philadelphia (13-12-1) and new coach Peter Laviolette will attempt a return to their early-season form as they take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Monday night (7 p.m. ET).
The Laviolette era in Philadelphia began with a boom, and not in a good way.
After Daniel Carcillo sucker-punched Washington's Matt Bradley on Saturday night, the Capitals scored seven times, including three markers on the ensuing nine-minute penalty, pushing the Flyers to their fourth straight defeat.
"My thought is the whole thing never should've happened," Laviolette said. "We got hit; we should've skated away and kept playing. There ended up being a confrontation.... If we're going to go to the (penalty) box in an undisciplined manner, we're not going to win hockey games."
Laviolette replaced John Stevens just two days before, but did not enjoy an ideal debut behind the bench as the Flyers suffered their worst loss since 2006.
The boys from Broad Street have been struggling up and down the ice. Last week, the offence went nearly eight periods without a goal, including a 3-0-shutout loss on Thursday at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks.
Lack of defence
But finding the score sheet has not been the only problem.
A lack of defence and futility on special teams are more recent difficulties for a team that has made the playoffs three times in the past four seasons.
Washington went 4-for-6 on the power play, shelling both Ray Emery and Brian Boucher for eight goals. The Flyers' penalty kill has allowed 16 goals against in the past 12 contests.
"Until we get that figured out, we're going to be in this predicament again," defenceman Chris Pronger said.
Pronger and Emery were bought in during the off-season to strengthen a back-end that has been the Achilles heel in Philadelphia since the tragic death of Pelle Lindbergh 24 years ago.
The Montreal Canadiens (13-14-2) know what their Eastern conference counterparts are going through, losing four straight before a 5-1 win against Boston on Friday.
In Montreal, health has been a significant problem.
The Canadiens have been hampered by injuries beginning in their first game of the 2009-10 season.
Star defencemen Andrei Markov was first to find the injured reserve. Since then, Brian Gionta, Hal Gill and Ryan O'Bryne have all spent time on the sidelines.
But not all is bad for the 24-time Stanley Cup champions, as free agent Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec have carried the offensive load, accounting for more than 25 per cent of Montreal's attack. Cammalleri netted his second hat trick at Montreal on Friday.
Not only that, goaltender Carey Price has been showing signs of improvement. The 22-year-old's 8-10-2 record is mediocre, but his .913 save percentage is among the best in the league. Price also brings a spotless 4-0-lifetime record into the game against the visiting Broad Street Bullies.
Monday will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. However, since the lockout, Montreal has enjoyed a 13-2-1 record against Philadelphia.