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Game 69 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers

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The Flyers won their last five games which included three shutouts?  Ptooey.  (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
The Flyers won their last five games which included three shutouts? Ptooey. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
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The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - 660 AM WFAN

The Game: The New Jersey Devils (39-24-5) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (39-21-7)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils visited Long Island to take on the New York Islanders last night. The Devils faced Anders Nilsson and made a point of it to put a lot of shots on him. It took a period to "get going," but they really piled it on with 29 shots on net. The Isles put up some good chances as well, forcing Johan Hedberg to make some important saves. The game remained scoreless until about 6 minutes into the third when John Tavares was left open off the cycle for a one-timer. Tavares hammered it in and it looked like the goal would hold up as the game's only score. Then out of nowhere, David Clarkson snuck a puck through a tiny hole past Nilsson. Seconds after that, P.A. Parenteau boarded Bryce Salvador which gave the Devils a power play. Marek Zidlicky fired the first and only shot on that power play as it went in. 2 goals, 14 seconds, and the Devils got the win. My recap of the game summed it all up and I'm still kind of bewildered at how quickly it all happened.

The Last Flyers Game: While the Devils were in Long Island, the Flyers went into Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Like the Devils-Isles game, it was a scoreless affair except both teams were even. The Leafs held a slight advantage in shots 29-27, but the result was the same. Goaltenders Ilya Bryzgalov and Jonas Gustavsson just could not be beaten in regulation or in overtime. That's right, this game got a shutout for both Bryzgalov and Gustavsson. A shootout was necessary and finally there would be a goal. Claude Giroux was the only player on both sides to put a puck in the net and so the Flyers extend their winning streak to five games with a 1-0 shootout win over Toronto.

The Last Devils-Flyers Game: The game on February 4, 2012 was a wild and wacky one in Philadelphia. The first two periods was all Devils hockey. The Devils drew calls and converted on power plays. They not only killed the Flyers' power plays but got a shorthanded goal. They even scored a few at evens. New Jersey simply wrecked Sergei Bobrovsky with six goals before the halfway mark of the game. That's not a typo: the Devils got six goals before 30 minutes were completed in the game. The third period came and it was all Philly. The Flyers out-shot the Devils 24-1 and made the game rather competitive. It took time but the Flyers put four goals past Johan Hedberg thanks to a listless Devils time. Yes, the Devils scored six goals and we can honestly they escaped with a 6-4 win. My recap of the bizarre game is right here. For the other side, Kreider at Broad Street Hockey explained that the Flyers sucked, then they didn't, but ultimately they did in his recap.

The Goal: Keep up the attack from Saturday's game. The Flyers have been hot with five straight games. Their PK has been strong, Ilya Bryzgalov has been playing really well, and the results just keep up coming up Philly. Normally, this is a difficult game for New Jersey because it is a rivalry; but it's even more difficult since the opposition has been playing so well. How does one cool off a hot team who's shutout their opposition three times out of their last five games? We saw it yesterday at Nassau Coliseum. It's important for the Devils to press the Flyers' defense and pile up the shots. With repeated attempts, they'll eventually find space in the offensive zone, catch the goalie by surprise, and/or just get a fortunate bounce. Bryzgalov has been fantastic as of late, the Devils should make every effort to make him do what he did in Toronto. If they can break through, especially early, then the Devils will have reason to bring the Flyers back down to Earth.

This will be a short preview. This is partially because of the lateness of this post as well as the fact that both teams didn't have a morning skate since they played and traveled last night. Still, please continue on after the jump for a few quick thoughts on this game.

The Devils are expected to start Martin Brodeur since Johan Hedberg While Bryzgalov has been amazing in recent games, Brodeur has been no slouch. He's weathered second period storms in each of his last two starts and he's only allowed one goal in each of his last three starts. Brodeur has looked very good in net and there's no reason to think he won't be again tonight.

According to Sam Cardici at, Bryzgalov will be the man in net for Philly tonight. As noted in the goal, he's been sensational. The Devils need to pressure him because expecting him to falter with the way he's been playing recently. I'm confident Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise will do just that since those two put up 13 of the Devils' 35 shots on net on Saturday. I hope we'll see more from the second line of Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus, and Petr Sykora. They didn't do too much on offense on Saturday, where the first and third lines drove the bus. Maybe they'll make a deeper mark on the game with possibly a more favorable match-up.

2011-12 - Claude Giroux 63 24 55 79 4 27 6 0 5 198 12.1
2011-12 - Scott Hartnell 67 32 28 60 18 120 15 0 4 184 17.4

Whoever gets matched with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell will definitely have problems. This isn't to disrespect Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds, Danny Briere, Matt Read, or the other four Flyers with 10+ goals, 100 SOGs this season. However, Giroux and Hartnell are a cut above the rest of the team in points and in shots. Giroux is a cut above almost everyone else in the entire NHL. Similar to the Tavares line, the Devils need to make sure they slow down Giroux and Hartnell to limit their impact on the game. That's assuming they're on the same line. If not, then it's that much more difficult do so. Fortunately, the Devils will have the last change so Peter DeBoer can better control who's out against who.

One final thought: the Devils should get familiar with what the Flyers are doing because they'll be playing each other again on Tuesday.

Again, apologies for the rushed and short preview, but it's something. What do you think will happen tonight? Can Bryzgalov be beaten? Can the Devils keep the Flyers at bay? Who will end up with their winning streak intact? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about tonight's game in the comments. Thank you for reading.