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Game Preview #48: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

After taking way too many penalty minutes, and losing to Montreal 3-1, the Devils head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers for the 2nd time this season.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils
The Devils celebrating a goal against the Flyers on December 22nd
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils head into Philadelphia, with Philadelphia cold as of late.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (19-19-9) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (22-18-6 SBN: Blog: BroadStreetHockey)

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+2; Digital Audio - The One Jersey Network

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Last Devils Game: Yesterday, the Devils played the Canadiens at home having won their last three straight. They certainly didn’t play like that, however. Yes, the referees calls were questionable, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Devils were completely outplayed for basically the entirety of the game. They were outshot 26-17, and watching the game, it didn’t even feel like the Devils got that many shots on net. They gave up way too many penalties, and the Canadiens capitalized on that. Were there questionable calls? Yes. Personally, I thought the Karl Stollery five minute major was ridiculous. However, it did not change the fact that it felt like the Devils did not deserve to win this game. Jon Merrill’s absence was felt, as he had been playing wonderfully the past few games. Ben Lovejoy played horrendously, with an even strength Corsi For of 32%. Changes need to occur for the Flyers game, and hopefully we get some of our injured players back.

The Last Flyers Game: On January 15th, the Flyers got beaten by the Capitals 5-0. According to the Broad Street Hockey Recap, the score wasn’t indicative of the play. In fact, the game seems to have went the Flyers way until the 3rd, when everything went wrong. Mason allowed 5 goals on 17 shots, and he’s had himself an awful year. Michael Del Zotto is apparently having himself an awful year, after previously having redeemed himself. The first line in the game was terrible. All of this and more you can read from the recap listed above. It was pretty interesting.

The Last Flyers-Devils Game: On December 22, the Devils beat the Flyers 4-0 at home. The game featured a total of 82 penalty minutes. The goals were scored by Parenteau, Wood, Henrique and Palmieri. John has the recap here. On the Devils side, Moore, Greene and Fiddler will not appear. It is currently unknown of the status of Cory Schneider or Jon Merrill, but Merrill was sorely missed against the Canadiens. The first goal, a P.A. Parenteau power play goal, featured some simply passes, and a Mike Cammalleri shot which deflected off Parenteau and in. Simple plays, which led to a goal. In other words, what the Devils are not doing on the power play anymore. The second goal came off a Brandon Manning giveaway, which led to a Miles Wood jam-in goal from the crease. The Henrique goal came off some beautiful passing, which led to an Adam Henrique shot from the slot for the 3-0 lead. The 4th goal was again on the power play, and Palmieri deflected an Andy Greene wrist-shot in for the 4th goal.

Flyers Changes From That Game: Taylor Leier, the Flyers 22 year old left wing prospect, is back in the AHL. Brandon Manning, who helped the Devils get the Miles Wood Goal in the last Flyers-Devils game, was scratched against the Capitals. Replacing them are Sean Couturier and Mark Streit, both of whom were injured in the last Devils-Flyers matchup game. Michal Neuvirth is back with the Flyers as well, though he’s been struggling even worse than Mason this year, which speaks of the Flyers goaltending situation.

The Goal: Not repeat the performance against Montreal, to start. Don’t play Devante Smith-Pelly on the penalty kill. Don’t take stupid penalties. Those are some good points to start off. Because the Devils are facing the Flyers, I’m wary of the fact that Hynes may want to put Gazdic back into the line-up, which would only cause me more displeasure. When watching the Devils, compared to other teams, they seem to have much more trouble in either executing simple passes, or receiving the pass in general. This leads to immediate pressure, and causes the Devils to be unable to start any form of break-out passing. Sometimes, the Devils seem to pass to no one in general, or will opt to dump the puck into the opposing zone even though a player is open on the side. Although no one played particularly well against Montreal, I still thought the Bennett-Josefson-Zacha line did the best in not completely sucking. They’re the only line I’d like to keep intact for the game against Philadelphia. Any other line, I’m open to changes not named Luke Gazdic.

Looking Ahead to the Trade Deadline: Gerard recently released an article expressing his opinion on which Devils players he would like to see go. In it, he highlights Mike Cammalleri, Devante Smith-Pelly, Ben Lovejoy, Sergey Kalinin, and Luke Gazdic. Personally, I would agree with all of these except for Kalinin, and Smith-Pelly if we can’t get any value for him (Which we won’t). Mike Cammalleri will only continue to decline as he gets older, and the Devils should find a taker for him before it’s too late. I’ve never been a fan of Ben Lovejoy, and his play this season further increases that. He doesn’t seem to be anything more than a 3rd-pairing/7th defender, as he doesn’t offer any intangibles that are particularly notable. It still amazes me that the Ducks were able to acquire Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy straight up, so I will pray that someone rates Ben Lovejoy that highly. The chances of that happening? Slim-to-none.

Although we’re technically still in the playoff hunt, this team just really isn’t that good at all, so it’d probably be worth it to do something similar to what the Senators did with Dion Phaneuf, and inflate some players stats before the trade deadline. Players to focus on would include Cammalleri, Parenteau and maybe John Moore if possible.

Philadelphia’s Goalies in One Word: Yikes. As I’ve lightly touched on before, Steve Mason has played terribly. He has a sub-.900 save percentage, and has been terribly inconsistent game by game. The backup goalie, Michal Neuvirth, is somehow even worse. He has a .877 save percentage, but somehow has a winning record (10-6-3). The Flyers give up 3.1 goals a game, putting them 28th in goals allowed per game. Likewise, the Devils score 2.2 goals a game, putting them at 28th in goals per game. It’s the battle of weaknesses — will the Devils actually score some goals, and play well? I’ll take anything even marginally close to the Minnesota game. I’ll also take anything nothing like the Montreal game.

The Power Play: There’s no point repeating what’s already been said many times, so here’s a short statement. Changes need to be made, and you guys already know that.

The Goalie?: No idea as of now. Kinkaid didn’t play bad against Montreal, so if Schneider is still sick, give him a rest.

Final Thoughts?: Do you guys still think we have a chance in making the playoffs? Do we even want to make the playoffs, considering the obvious weaknesses on our team? How do you think we’ll end up doing against the Flyers? Let me know in the comments below, and take care guys.