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Game Preview #59: New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers

The Devils take on the second worst team in the division tonight.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (38-15-5) at the Philadelphia Flyers (23-27-10). SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSGSN

Rest Up

The Devils only held an optional practice yesterday. Of all the participants, only Jesper Bratt and Vitek Vanecek have a sure roster spot for the rest of the season. I would say the rest are fighting for their spot on the playoff roster. Those guys were: Yegor Sharangovich, Fabian Zetterlund, Michael McLeod, Jesper Boqvist, Kevin Bahl, Brendan Smith, and Akira Schmid. There is a nonzero chance that two of those eight are traded within the next week. Or, maybe none of them will. Jesper Bratt, though, had plenty to say about needing to improve the effort in the first period tonight.

I agree with Jesper that needing to keep to the structure is necessary to beat good teams. Fancy styles of play might fly against really poor teams, but Los Angeles was good enough to find the holes in their defense and pick them apart. While Philadelphia is a bad team, they have a rather tenacious coach that I would argue a team does not want to show weaknesses to. I would really like to see them get out to an early lead and keep it tonight.

The Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers had a rough night last night. They lost to Montreal 5-2, giving up two late goals at the end of the first period and never working their way back during the game. A look at the forward lines on Natural Stat Trick for the game shows that John Tortorella may have been desperate to find working line combinations. I see nine line combinations that played at least a minute together — and he found his only good line of Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, and Owen Tippett. That line outshot Montreal 6-0 in 5:24 together and scored their only two goals. I would expect to see them tonight. Unfortunately for John Tortorella, the rest of his team seems rather rudderless. Meanwhile, he still picks at Farabee.

After Tortorella said this, Farabee was on the ice for both Flyers goals but did not register a point — Tippett and Ivan Provorov scored, while Frost and Tony DeAngelo picked up the only assists. With the way Tortorella has been dealing with his players — scratching players during ostensibly important games for them, he has really shown himself to be exactly who everyone else (other than Chuck Fletcher) expected him to be.

Sanheim, for those keeping track at home, was signed to an eight-year extension this year.

2003 Commemoration

If you have not heard yet, tonight is the night that the Devils are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Stanley Cup winning team. If you have the time, Amanda Stein has compiled a lot of input from those who were there at the time. You can read that here. I do not know if the ceremony for the team will cause any delays to puck drop, but you can expect plenty of team legends to be present for the game tonight — some already saw their overtime win against Los Angeles at The Rock.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils will run away with this one early? Or will John Tortorella claw out a fourth line grind-it-out fest? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.