Tonight the Devils and Flyers renew their rivalry.
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+2; Radio - 880 AM WCBS
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (13-10-2) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (10-10-5; SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey)
The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Hurricanes last night in convcing fashion, 5-1. Mike Cammalleri had 2 goals and an assist. Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, and Stephen Gionta also scored. The Devils lost Travis Zajac in the 1st period due to an upper body injury but were able to recieve contributions from the entire team, both on the scoreboard and in physical play. Speaking of physicality, Jordin Tootoo and Stefan Matteau each picked up fighting majors in what ended up being a chippy game as it progressed. Keith Kinkaid played and made 30 saves on 31 shots to earn the victory. You can read John's recap of the game here.
The Last Flyers Game: The Flyers defeated the Senators 4-2 on Tuesday night for their 3rd straight victory. It was also their 4th victory over their last 5 games. The Flyers got some offense from their defensemen with Shayne Gostisbehere and Evgeny Medvedev netting the first 2 goals. Forwards Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier had the other goals with Couturier's being an empty net goal. Steve Mason stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced as the Flyers outshot the Senators 33-25. Charlie O'Connor had this recap of the game over on Broad Street Hockey.
The Last Devils - Flyers Game: These teams last squared off on October 29 in Philadelphia. The Devils took a 4-1 win behind 2 PP goals from Travis Zajac as well as goals by Kyle Palmieri and Andy Greene (EN). Palmieri also picked up 2 assists in the game with Jacob Josefson and Eric Gelinas earning 1 each. Cory Schneider made 27 saves on 28 shots to pick up the win over Steve Mason and his 29 saves on 32 shots. Special teams were critical in the game for the Devils as their PP went 2/5 and their PK went 2/2. You can check out John's thorough recap of the Devils decisive victory over the Flyers.
The Goal: Try to get ahead early and control the tempo of the game. The Flyers have been a hot team lately and it will be important to not allow them to gain any momentum, especially early on. I'd like to see the Devils get off to an aggressive start and control the bulk of play in the Flyers zone. Obviously, this is easier said than done, especially on the back end of a back-to-back but forcing the Flyers to defend early could lead to them committing penalties. The Devils were able to utilize their PP in their last matchup with the Flyers and it was instrumental in them earning the victory. I'd like to see them get the Flyers on their heels early on so they can dictate the tempo of the game.
The Flyers Forwards: As of late the Flyers top line has consisted of Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux, and Brayden Schenn. Giroux currently leads the team in goals (8), assists (tied, 12), and points (20). Raffl is currently sporting a low 2.2 SH% and could be due to break out playing on the top line with two skilled players. The second line of Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and Wayne Simmonds has put up the best possession numbers on the team among the forwards as they all have a CF% greater than 55% while starting the majority of their shifts in their own end according to War On Ice. This is a line that is capable of playing strong two-way hockey and will look to frustrate the Devils all night long. With only 1 goal on the season, Jakub Voracek has found himself on the third line with Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. While Voracek is in an extended goal scoring slump, he's still put up assists in an average of almost half of the games he's played this season. I'm not sure how much damage he can really do on this line though. If the Devils can win the battle against the top two lines, then I like their chances tonight. I should note that the Flyers are still without R.J. Umberger (lower body), Ryan White (upper body), and Sam Gagner (upper body).
The Flyers Defense: I was a bit surprised to see Michael Del Zotto has been playing on the 1st pair for the Flyers this season and averaging nearly 24 minutes a night. Lately he has been paired with Radko Gudas who will miss this game due to suspension. Mark Streit is still out with a groin injury but Nick Schultz may be fit to play tonight as he's been overcoming an upper body injury. Overall, Del Zotto has had one of the better CF%'s for the Flyers defensemen this season. The other Flyers defensemen consist of standout rookie Shayne Gostisbehere who is capable of producing offense and playing over 18 minutes a night. Evgeny Medvedev has played sparingly but is also capable of helping to drive play forward and add offense as of late. The Devils may see their best opportunities of the night if they take on Brandon Manning and Luke Schenn.
The Likely Goaltending Matchup: The Devils rested Cory Schneider last night so that he could start this game. He currently has a .927 SV% to go along with 14 Quality Starts (73.7%), and a 6.74 Goals Saved Above Average. He's likely to face Steve Mason who is coming off solid performances in his last 3 games. While Mason has had a bit of a slow start compared to recent years, his numbers are starting to trend in the right direction. As of right now though, his SV% is .911 to go along with 7 Quality Starts (46.7%), and he's been worth 1.88 Goals Below Average. It will be interesting to see how this matchup unfolds tonight.
Possible Line Up Changes for the Devils?: The Devils won last night so you wouldn't necessarily expect many changes. However, this is the second part of a back-to-back, they have healthy players available, and they already know that Travis Zajac will miss this game due to an upper body injury he suffered in Carolina. It seems likely that Sergey Kalinin will draw back into the line up after being given a game off. I thought Stefan Matteau had a strong game last night and deserves to stay in the line up. I suppose it's possible David Schlemko reclaims his spot in the line up though that is far from being certain. Eric Gelinas did take a big hit last night but managed to stay in the game. We'll have to see if anything comes of that later today when Hynes meets the media.
Your Take: What line up would you like to see tonight? What matchups are you looking forward to? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!