NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils
Flyers (6-7-1) at Devils (8-2-3) 7 p.m., CSN
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Well, it’s hard to get any worse than the last time these teams squared off.
The Philadelphia Flyers will continue their six-game road trip on Friday night, as they take on their hated rivals, the New Jersey Devils. During the team’s first meeting of the season back on Jan. 22, New Jersey dominated all aspects of the game, in route to a 3-0 shutout victory. It’ll be a huge game for the Flyers, as they try to knock off the Atlantic Division leaders in their attempts to gain ground.
Philadelphia has been playing some good hockey lately, despite being without the likes of Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros due to injury. They will likely get one sidelined player back for this game, as young Sean Couturier expects to return to the lineup after missing the past two games with the stomach bug.
For the Devils, Adam Henrique will be in the lineup this time around. He missed the first five games of the season with a hand injury. In eight games played this season, Henrique has been stellar on the team’s top unit, posting four goals and two assists. It must be fun playing alongside Ilya Kovalchuk, no?
Between the Pipes
In Tuesday’s win against the Winnipeg Jets, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was on his game. He stopped 24 of 26 shots fired his way, including a very busy second period in which the Jets sent 11 shots toward him. He’ll be in the cage again for this contest.
Ever hear of a guy by the name of Martin Brodeur? I thought you might. He may be 40-years old, but he is still playing at one of the highest levels in hockey, sporting a GAA of 2.36 to match a .908 save percentage. Brodeur has been known to give the Flyers fits in the past, shutting them out 10 times in his career, his most against any team.
Keys to Win
Shoot early and often: We all know how good Brodeur is when he’s settled in his zone. Don’t allow him to be. Constantly pepper him with shots, don’t let him get comfortable and crash the net.
Set the ton early: Far too often have we seen the Devils control the game from the faceoff, resulting in the Flyers playing catchup mode. Philadelphia must be the aggressor and try to strike first. They rank 7th in hockey in winning percentage after leading after the first period.
Scott Hartnell could return as early as next Wednesday night. He was originally supposed to miss 4-8 weeks, but may only miss upwards to 4.
Alexei Ponikarovsky will return to the Prudential center after being traded back to New Jersey from Winnipeg. He will look to fill the void of injured Dainius Zubrus.
The line of Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and Tye McGinn have been a tremendous source of offense over the last few games. Look to see if they can stay hot in New Jersey.