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New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers: Game Preview #15

The New Jersey Devils will look to hopefully score a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. At least, they should strive for it much less a victory. This post previews tonight's game between the two dregs of the Metropolitan Division.

Watching the last game between these two teams led to facial reactions by these two players.
Watching the last game between these two teams led to facial reactions by these two players.
Paul Bereswill

The last time these two teams played was a dreadful affair. Surely, tonight's game can't be as bad as that one - right? Right?

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (3-7-4) at the Philadelphia Flyers (4-9-1; SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils went on the road to play the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night. The first period actually wasn't that bad but their ten shots couldn't crack Josh Harding. Meanwhile, one of the few attacks by the Wild turned into an easy score for Michael Granlund when Mark Fayne and Jacob Josefson denied each other in trying to clear a loose puck. Things would go from unfortunate to sigh-inducing as the Devils' attack faded as the game went on, with more and more shooting attempts not even reaching Harding. The Wild responded with another bounce of a goal when a Zach Parise shot went off a bunch of bodies and went in off Marek Zidlicky's leg and into the net; and a power play goal in the third period to really nail the game down. An empty netter sealed another disappointing road loss. Mike wasn't happy in his recap and he had every right to be.

The Last Flyers Game: Fresh off their fourth win of the season, the Flyers headed into Carolina hoping to get their season back on some kind of track. What transpired was something Travis Hughes saw that led him to title his recap at Broad Street Hockey, "Quite possible the ugliest game we've ever seen." I'd argue the last Devils-Flyers game was worse since the Flyers-Canes game had both teams put many shots on net and attempt many more. But different strokes for different folks and all that, so whatever. Anyway, Scott Hartnell appeared to steal the game late with his first goal of the season, a power play strike. But the home team rallied in the final minute with possession; Jordan Staal got inside position on Claude Giroux; and the game had a dramatic ending in regulation. Overtime ensued and Manny Malhotra ended that with a breakaway finisher.

The Last Devils-Flyers Game: These two played each other at the Rock last Saturday and it was absolutely hideous. The Devils and Flyers played a remarkably low event game that saw the Devils put up a paltry 14 shots on net. The Flyers put up 21 and the one that beat Martin Brodeur was a shot by Andrej Meszaros that bounced off Brayden Schenn and the left post to get in. The closest the Devils were able to beat Ray Emery was a shot by Michael Ryder that hit the post late; but the team never put up much of an offensive effort despite five power plays and an opposition that featured Hal Gill on defense. I called this game "sad" in my recap. Kurt R. was just glad with the result in his recap at Broad Street Hockey.

The Goal: The Devils have not scored in seven periods and put up a total 38 shots on net across those same seven periods. Clearly, this cannot continue if the Devils want to try winning some games anytime soon. For what it's worth, I'm at the point where I would be that guy screaming "SHOOOOOT" anytime a Devil has the puck for more than a second in the offensive zone. And I hate that guy. The Devils must attack, attack, attack attack attack. If they score, then go from there and do it again.

Return from Injuries: The Devils have been banged up really badly in recent weeks. Ryane Clowe remains out with concussion problems. Bryce Salvador has been shelved due to a stress fracture in his foot. Patrik Elias remains out with back spasms. Jon Merrill suffered facial lacerations after a nasty fall on his second NHL shift in the Minnesota game. There's some good news from Tom Gulitti's Wednesday report at Fire & Ice. Travis Zajac, Anton Volchenkov, and Peter Harrold all returned to practice. Volchenkov completes the defense and with Harrold playing an extra role, it appears Eric Gelinas remains active. The biggest return would be Zajac. While he hasn't been a productive player this season, he has definitely driven the play forward. Elias has been the biggest omission but the forwards were putrid without #19 in the last two games. He should be a big help tonight if only because he can play significant minutes in all situations and do a good job.

Goodbye For Now - Wait, Why Are You Here?: Unfortunately, there's some bad news: Cam Janssen is back. Gulitti confirmed the call up and got word from Lou himself that "he brings a little different dimension" in this post at Fire & Ice. Well, that's true since Janssen is absolutely terrible at playing hockey. The Devils were able to make this move because they waived and sent down Rostislav Olesz on Tuesday. The attempted reclamation project didn't turn out well as he was increasingly invisible in recent games. It appears his time in New Jersey is done for the time being. However, I'd rather have Olesz not do much than Janssen take up a roster spot for less than five minutes of ice time, a useless fight (note: there were no fights in the last Flyers-Devils game so it's not like it was needed), and 11 forwards trying to do what twelve haven't been able to do in recent games. Seriously, this call up makes no sense. The Devils have struggled mightily to get shots on net, much less score. Not that Joe Whitney (Jerry wrote about this possibility before the Janssen call up was announced on Wednesday), Reid Boucher, Scott Timmins, or even Stefan Matteau would be the answer to the team's problem. No twelfth forward is suddenly going to create offense that the team badly needs. Otherwise, they'd already be here, playing in a larger role. But I'd rather give those guys a shot to do a little something over a known quantity that contributes nothing at best.

Curiously, Janssen may not be an automatic inclusion into tonight's lineup, though I think it's likely. Jacob Josefson was being rotated into the fourth line so if Peter DeBoer wants to possibly have twelve forwards who can theoretically contribute, he can. Then again, why call up a player if you weren't going to play him right away? And would you want Josefson to go into Philly where things can get nasty? Especially after he had a bad game in Minnesota? Actually, I still would since the other option is Janssen, but that's just me. Either way, I think the call up is still a bad decision that addresses none of the needs of the team right now.

The Flyers Are Still Not Good at Attacking: I hate to refer a past preview for an overview of the opposition, but I think most of my preview from last week still applies. The two teams have played only one game since and neither fundamentally changed since their last meeting. Both are still bringing up the rear of the Metropolitan. The Flyers are still bad at scoring. Vincent Lecavalier did return to the team and played in the Carolina game so he's another threatening player on paper. Who knows whether the threat from him and Giroux would be realized tonight? At least Tye McGinn can't pull a goal out of nowhere like he did at the start of the season; he was sent down for Kris Newbury according to Sam Carchidi on Twitter. Anyway, their defense remains sieve-like except when they play a crummy offensive team like the Devils. Their goaltending, well, Steve Mason hasn't been the problem at all. I suspect he'll be in tonight given the break between games and that he did very well in Carolina.

Marty Gers the First Start: Gulitti did confirm on Wednesday in this post at Fire &Ice that Martin Brodeur will start this game. I have no issue with that. It's the first of a back-to-back set, so the Devils continue to split these situations between Brodeur and Cory Schneider. Plus, Brodeur did as well as anyone could reasonably expect on Saturday against the mostly the same Flyers team that he'll see tonight. I think he'll be fine. The real question is whether the Devils can give him some goals to work with tonight.

Your Take: Will the Devils score a single, measly goal tonight? Will they score more than one? Will they score more than the other team? These are the questions that seem obvious but must be asked given where the Devils are. Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this second game against the Second Rate Rivals of the season in the comments. Thank you for reading.