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Game Preview #25: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

After dropping their first matchup, the Devils look to settle the score against Philly tonight.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (19-4-1) at the Philadelphia Flyers (8-11-5). SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey.

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Broadcast: MSGSN

In Need of Physicality

With Nathan Bastian apparently out long-term with an upper body injury, the Devils need to rely on the rest of their fourth line Miles Wood an Michael McLeod - to give the team enough of an edge to compete and wear down the opponent. Unfortunately, Miles Wood missed the Devils’ last game due to what turned out to be an “illness,” leading to Lindy Ruff using Brendan Smith at forward. Smith was not bad, really - he did draw a penalty - he does not match the tenacity and pace of Miles Wood at forward. Since Wood has been central to how that line operates offensively, this could not continue into Philadelphia, where the Devils are seeing their first rematch with the Flyers, who beat them on opening night by a score of 5-2. Fortunately, Wood returned to practice without burning any sticks yesterday. He should be good to go tonight.

Philly’s String of Injuries

It has not been smooth sailing for the Flyers, especially with their 10-game losing streak that snapped at the end of November. Cam Atkinson and Sean Couturier have not played this season. According to Chuck Fletcher, Atkinson is close to a return. James Van Riemsdyk and Wade Allison have also gotten hurt since the Devils last played Philly - and both will still be out tonight. The Flyers just got Travis Konecny back from a two-week injury on Thursday when they lost to Tampa Bay, and Tony DeAngelo also came back from a short-term injury stemming from a blocked shot. This team easily becomes unrecognizable when their top players get hurt, and I cannot imagine that John Tortorella is having an easy time plugging AHLers into an already deficient lineup.

The Defense Stepping Back Up

Hopefully the team is bolstered up front by the return of Miles Wood, who does an excellent job of wearing down the opponents. But the defense will have to be better tonight than they have been for the past couple games. Specifically, the top pairing of Jonas Siegenthaler and Dougie Hamilton should have a good game today. They had a rare bad game against Nashville, and I think Philly is the exact type of team that Dougie should run roughshod on. If Dougie can bring the offense while Siegenthaler and Marino shutdown the few scoring threats on Philly, then the Devils should have no problems tonight.

Some More Notes

The Devils called up Andreas Johnsson yesterday:

If Wood is back in, there might not be a place for Johnsson. I would not be surprised if he bumped Holtz from the lineup against a Philly lineup featuring Nic Deslauriers, run by a coach that likes to play old-school hockey. Johnsson has been racking up both points and PIMs in Utica, so perhaps he's been training for this type of role.

In case you missed it, Damon Severson recently was noticed responding to a negative fan on Twitter after the team’s loss to Nashville. Severson, who was the team’s best defenseman during the game, did not appreciate being called out for making miscues in the defensive zone (which did not happen from him against Nashville). Apparently, he forgot to switch to his burner account. So keep any eye on this:

I doubt Severson will see on-ice discipline for what happened, though. I liked his pairing with Kevin Bahl, despite Bahl's occasional mistakes handling the puck. I do think that a Bahl-Severson pairing can get better results than a pairing with Brendan Smith, but we'll see how the lineup shakes out with Ruff actually having extras to consider.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight's game? Will the Devils beat Philly? Will they engage physically or just try to skate circles? Do you think Andreas Johnsson appears tonight? Will anyone take on Deslauriers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.