By Sharon Otter
The Flyers open the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight in the Toronto bubble against the Montreal Canadiens.
Flyers: 3-0-0 in round-robin; 41-21-7, .645 points percentage in regular season
Canadiens: 3-1 to win qualifier series against Pittsburgh Penguins; 31-31-9, .500 points percentage in regular season
Season series: PHI 2-1-0; MTL 1-0-2
Tonight at 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN
The No. 8 Canadiens may have been the lowest-seeded team in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, but the No. 1 Flyers are not taking them for granted.
“They just played a big series, big win, they were underdogs there,” Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere told the Flyers web site. “They’re a good team. You can’t take anyone lightly in this league. You’ve got to be ready at the drop of the puck. I think for us it’s a good matchup and it’ll be a fun series.”
The Canadiens, who were the No. 12 seed in the Qualifiers, upset the Penguins, the No. 5 seed, in four games thanks in large part to goalie Carey Price, who had a 1.67 goals-against average and .947 save percentage (seven goals on 133 shots) in the series.
Montreal looked like a different team than the one that struggled down the stretch in the regular season. The Canadiens had seven players score at least one goal, including two from Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was sent down to Laval of the American Hockey League for the final 19 games of the regular season.
“Everybody was kind of counting us [out], so of course it feels good to get to win this series,” said forward Artturi Lehkonen, who scored the game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory in Game 4. “But it was one series, and now we’ve got to enjoy this for a moment and then move on.”
They will move on to face a Flyers team that picked up right where it left off when the season was paused, defeating the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning by a combined score of 11-3 in the round-robin.
The Flyers and Canadiens have met six previous times in the postseason, with each team winning three series. Philly has won the past two, including in five games in the 2010 Eastern Conference Final.