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Game Preview #48: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

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After dropping a close one to Pittsburgh, the Devils look to turn around against the Flyers.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers
Looking for a better game from Zacha.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (14-27-6) at the Philadelphia Flyers (21-19-7). SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey.

The Time: 6:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG

Fourth Line Woes

The line of Nick Merkley, Jesper Boqvist, and Marian Studenic had a very rough game yesterday afternoon. In just 6:13 together at even strength, they had a 20.00 CF%, were outshot two to six, had a 15.30 xGF%, and were on the ice for a goal against. Of the entire line, only Jesper Boqvist was credited for a shot on goal, with a whopping 0.04 individual expected goals (Merkley and Studenic had zero). Personally, I do not see how Merkley and Studenic can stay in the lineup after a performance like that. Perhaps Merkley will stay in on account of the grit he showed in his third period fight. However, I’d rather see Foote and Maltsev if Kuokkanen is still out. If Kuokkanen plays, I assume Johnsson will slide back down the lineup.

Colton White and the Defense

Colton White had a surprisingly good game yesterday, filling in for Jonas Siegenthaler, who is out on COVID protocol. White had three shots and a scoring chance, and did not look out of place in the third period comeback attempt to me. His pairing with Matt Tennyson also had an xGF% over 50.00, which is a good showing for White. In his previous call-ups, White has usually been crushed in possession and quality-of-chances. However, it looks like he'll get at least another game.

Ryan Murray and Damon Severson looked better together, and Ryan Murray made one of his best plays of the year on the Wood goal. However, the pairing of Will Butcher and Connor Carrick had a very bad night. They had a 34.48 CF%, were outshot five to 13, and had a 28.58 xGF%. In terms of our defense, the Butcher-Carrick pairing was by far the worst. I wonder if now would be the time to give Reilly Walsh or Josh Jacobs a look to close out the season.

Race to the Bottom

Both the Devils and the Flyers have had a rough go of it lately. However, while the Devils already accepted their fate, Philadelphia viewed themselves as contenders this season. While their forwards underperformed this year (Nolan Patrick only has eight points in 43 games), some probably expected their goaltending to pick up the slack.

Apparently, it’s a bad idea to bet your team’s success on the back of a young goaltender. Brian Elliott’s .895 save percentage is bad enough. However, that even looks elite next to Carter Hart’s .877 save percentage. So when Devils fans worry about Mackenzie Blackwood’s .900 save percentage, keep this in mind. While these teams are awfully futile on defense and in terms of stopping the puck, it might be a mistake to assume a high-scoring game. Sure, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Jack Hughes, and Nico Hischier could put on an offensive show on the shoddy goaltending that may be on display this evening. However, it’s entitely possible that this game ends up with 40 total shots and ends on a redirection off James Van Riemsdyk’s body on the Flyers’ power play. But hopefully, it’s not that kind of game.

Your Thoughts

Will you be watching this evening? Who do you think will start for the Devils? Will the team turn to Blackwood in search of the win or will they be smart and play Wedgewood? What do you want to see happen with the Boqvist line? What about Tennyson and Carrick? Do you think the Devils can win tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.