Welcome to the end of the preseason. After this game ends, it will mean absolutely nothing.
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Broadcast: None. Good thing I'm going to the game.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-4-0) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (3-2-1; SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey)
The Last Devils-Flyers Game: On Wednesday night, the Devils went into Philly to play the Flyers. The first five minutes went well with Damon Severson setting up a glorious scoring chance and shortly thereafter setting up a goal by Tuomo Ruutu. However, the Flyers took the game over as the Devils struggled on defense, dominated the neutral zone, and made the most of three power plays given to them. A bad decision on a clearance by Severson yielded a Michael Del Zotto shot that Chris Porter re-directed in. A Seth Helgeson interference minor plus a David Schlemko minor for high-sticking resulted in Wayne Simmonds re-directing a pass by Claude Giroux to make it 1-2. In the second period, the Devils got their groove back and handled the game rather well. Adam Henrique put home a slap-pass by Kyle Palmieri to convert a power play early in the second to tie it up. Late in the second, Travis Zajac charged the net and slid a puck that Michal Neuvirth should have stopped. After the second, Jason LaBarbera replaced Neuvirth. Keith Kinkaid held it down in the crease, the Devils kept the Flyers more than honest, and Zajac put home an empty netter to seal a 4-2 win. In the 3-on-3 exhibition, a bad decision was made by LaBarbera in attempting a long pass on what would've been an iced puck. Jacob Josefson picked it off and put it home to end that early. I had a lot of good things to write about in my recap. Charlie O'Conner was bored of his team in his recap at Broad Street Hockey.
The Last Rehearsal or Who We Know and Who I Think Will Play Tonight: In this post by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice, head coach John Hynes did reveal that tonight's lineup should include most of the players that would be on the team next Friday. He did confirm that Andy Greene, Jordin Tootoo, Mike Cammalleri, and Cory Schneider will all play tonight. Greene, Tootoo, and Cammalleri didn't appear on Wednesday and that game was a designated start for Kinkaid anyway. While Hynes did not state nor did Gulitti report what the full lineup will be, we know those four will be in. Who will come out for them, I do not know. I would personally sit Seth Helgeson - I don't think another game from him will change what we know about him - for Greene. Cammalleri can just step into the lineup in place of Kyle Palmieri. As for Tootoo, that's a tough one. I don't really want to see one of the forwards on the bubble come out like Lee Stempniak, Sergey Kalinin, and Pavel Zacha. If it has to be one of them, then I'd make it Zacha under the notion that he should be back in juniors. Maybe Tuomo Ruutu under the impression that he's a known quantity? We'll find out later today.
These four will likely be out. Marc-Andre Gragnani was still out with a hip flexor injury; I don't know if they'll rush him into the last game. Tyler Kennedy is still away on personal business, so he may not even get a last chance to make his case for a contract. Gulitti did report that Kyle Palmieri is day-to-day with whatever he suffered on Wednesday night. Palmieri has played so much in preseason that I think he'll be fine to start when real games come along. Patrik Elias will head to injured reserve after not appearing in any preseason games; the Devils now have one less cut to make for next Friday.
As David Schlemko just played his first preseason game and the rust really showed in that one, it would make sense to me if he plays tonight. I want to see him get the rust off. That said, John Moore also didn't play on Wednesday. He could go in for the same rationale that Greene, Tootoo, and Cammalleri will, but he was curiously left out of that statement by Hynes. Maybe it's because it's unknown who should come out of the lineup for him. Eric Gelinas, maybe? Again, we'll see.
Who Won't Be on the Flyers Tonight: Chris Porter was claimed on waivers by Minnesota on Thursday, as reported in this article by Jeff Nuiberg at Philly.com. He didn't make Philly, now he can make a potential contender. In the notes to that article, it's possible Sean Couturier is able to play tonight though Michael Raffl thinks he'll be out.
Who to Look Out for Among Flyers: Seriously, watch the defensemen. As I understand it, the Flyers still have eight defenders in camp. I don't think they'll carry eight for their season opener. So whoever will be there could make a point of it to do just a bit more on the ice. Throw a little more energy into a hit. Make a more ambitious shot block. Look to contribute a bit more going forward. They only have a job to play for, after all.
Other than that, I'd expect their lineup to be similar to the one seen on Wednesday. Many of their top players played in that one. I'd assume Steve Mason would start that one instead of Michal Neuvirth. I would also expect a more up tempo game from them. After bossing the Devils for most of the first period, the Flyers revealed a more true form: a bad and boring hockey team. I can't imagine head coach Dave Hakstol was happy with that, so the skaters may show a bit more pep in their step than usual.
No Broadcast: It sure would be nice if the Devils or even the Flyers were streaming something from the game on their website. I'll try to tweet a bit more during the game from my seat at the AATJ account: @AATJerseyBlog. After tonight, this issue of not broadcasting games will be gone for 2015-16.
Your Take: It's the last preseason game. I'll be there. Maybe you'll be there. By the time it's over, it'll be a quick memory. What do you expect to see tonight, assuming you're there? Who do you want to see do well, assuming you're there? And if you're not going to be there, then what is something you'd like to see in the recap? Please leave your answers and other thoughts on tonight's game in the comments. Thank you for reading.