Flyers-Canadiens preview: Philly aiming for top spot in Metropolitan Division

FLYRGLANCE26
New Flyers goalie Petr Mrazek stops Zack Smith in the visitors’ 5-3 win Saturday in Ottawa. Mrazek has won both of his starts with the Flyers.

Flyers (33-19-10) at Canadiens (23-29-9)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday.

WHERE: Bell Centre.

BROADCAST & STREAMING: NBCSP, NBCSports.com/live, 97.5 FM

SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: @BroadStBull and @samdonnellon on Twitter.

KEY PLAYERS: The Flyers are the NHL’s hottest team, and they would move into first place in the Metropolitan Division if they win and Washington loses in Columbus. The Flyers are one point behind the Caps, and the teams are tied with 32 points in ROW (regulation and overtime wins), which is the tie-breaker. Pittsburgh, which is idle Monday, is tied with the Flyers for second place.

Less than three months ago, the Flyers were last in the eight-team Metro.

The Flyers are on a 9-0-2 run and have won five straight, and they have won their last six road games. They are trying to sweep a season series from the Habs for just the third time since the teams began meeting in 1967-68.

Claude Giroux leads the Flyers. The 30-year-old captain is tied for third in the NHL with 74 points, and he has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in his last nine games. Can you say MVP candidate?

The Canadiens are in disarray. They are 14th out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and are holding a fire sale. They dealt veteran center Tomas Plekanec to Toronto on Sunday and could make more moves (Max Pacioretty?) before Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

Montreal is without two key players who are injured: Goalie Carey Price, who suffered a concussion Tuesday in a game against the Flyers, and  defenseman Shea Weber (foot). The Canadiens are using an ultra-young defensive corps. Winger Brendan Gallagher paces the Habs with 21 goals. Backup goalie Antti Niemi has played well in Montreal’s last two games, going 1-0-1, but he has struggled most of the season (3.76 GAA, .892 save percentage).

The Flyers are led by Giroux, Jake Voracek (56 assists), Sean Couturier (29 goals, plus-27), and Shayne Gostisbehere (50 points, plus-15).

THINGS TO KNOW: In two games with the Flyers, goalie Petr Mrazek is 2-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .917 save percentage. … Montreal is tied for 27th in the 31-team league with 55 points and has a minus-36 goal differential. … Nolan Patrick has a goal in each of the last four games. … Overall, the Flyers are tied for ninth in the NHL with 76 points and have a plus-10 goal differential. … The Flyers’ power play is ninth in the NHL, but their penalty kill has dropped to 29th. … The Flyers will not practice Tuesday and will be on the ice Wednesday in Voorhees. Will there be any newcomers on the team?

HEAD TO HEAD: The Flyers trail the overall series, 75-80-30-7, but they have 5-3 and 3-2 (overtime) wins in the two meetings this season. In the overtime victory last Tuesday, Voracek scored late in regulation and early in OT. The Flyers are trying to sweep a season series against the Habs for the first time since 2002-03. Since the teams started meeting in 1967-68, the Flyers have swept the series just twice. They also swept in 1995-96.

COMING FLYERS GAMES:

Thursday: 7 p.m. vs. Carolina.

Saturday: 1 p.m. at Tampa Bay.

Sunday: 3 p.m. at Florida.

March 7: 8 p.m.vs. Pittsburgh.