Flyers Look to Salvage Home-and-Home With New Jersey
Philadelphia Flyers (12-15-1) vs New Jersey Devils (13-9-5)
Wells Fargo Center — Newark, NJ
7:00 p.m. on CSN and 97.5 FM The Fanatic
Setting the Stage
This is the fourth of five meetings between the two teams. New Jersey has won the previous thre games (3-0 on January 22, 5-3 on February 15, and 5-2 on Wednesday, all in New Jersey).
What to Expect
The Flyers are even more desperate than they were heading into Wednesday's game.
Jakub Voracek scored their only goal on Wednesday, extending his scoring lead on the team to 13 goals and 30 points. Claude Giroux, who has 18 assists (team-high) and 26 points, has just one goal and three assists in his last six games. Then there is Danny Briere's struggles.
New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk has two goals and four assists in the three games against the Flyers this season. He's second on the team with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists). Adam Henrique put up a brilliant three-point effort on Wednesday, giving him nine goals and four assists on the year.
The Masked Men
It's expected to be a goalie rematch tonight and Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to make his league-leading 27th start against New Jersey. He didn't play well in the loss to New Jersey even though a heavy part of the blame could be put on the bad turnovers and poor defense.
Johan Hedberg will be making his 11th straight start. He was brilliant against Philadelphia, stopping 23 shots in the win. It was arguably his best outing during that 11 game stretch since Martin Brodeur went down with a back injury.
Keys to the Game - Same as Wednesday
1. Attack the Moose. Hedberg may still be a bit tired with his recent work load, but he has success against the Flyers as shown on Wednesday. They just need to get more than 25 shots on him and they could possibly get him out of his game.
2. Top Line. In the last three games, the Flyers have gotten only two goals from their top line of Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek. Giroux and Voracek are their top point getters, both having struggled as of late. Hartnell has also been frustrated and needs a good, chippy effort to help shake him from the funk he's been in.
3. Isolate Kovi. Ilya Kovalchuk has a history of dominating the Flyers and he has done so already this season. His six points in three games against Philadelphia already this season prove that he has the ability to spark his team. He's strong around the puck and with the puck and the Flyers defense needs to be physical with him down low in order that he doesn't set up the rest of his line with scoring chances.
“I don’t truly believe we’re done if we lose this game. Obviously, it’s a big game for us. We need to climb back in the standings, but you can’t be saying that the season’s going to be over if you lose this game. Obviously, we need to play the way we can play. And it’ll be one game at a time. The message is clear ... Everybody knows what to do out there.” -- Claude Giroux on Thursday.