After Poor Effort Against Islanders, Flyers Look To Right The Ship in New Jersey
After an uninspired effort (or lack thereof) that led to a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night, the Philadelphia Flyers (27-14-4) will try to return to form on Saturday when they face the New Jersey Devils (26-18-2).
The Devils are coming off of a loss to the Boston Bruins, but had won three in a row prior to Thursday night’s game.
Defensive struggles and problems in net have caused some issues for the Flyers as of late, but such was not the case on Thursday night. Sergei Bobrovsky was one of the very few high points for the Flyers, though the scoresheet made it appear otherwise.
While the Flyers have some talented rookies on their roster including Sean Couturier, Matt Read, and Brayden Schenn, the Devils have a skillful youngster of their own, who has quietly been having a great season.
Twenty-one-year-old Adam Henrique has 34 points in 41 games with the Devils, and is tied with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for 2nd-most goals scored amongst rookies.
Saturday’s game will be the third of six between these division rivals, with the series split at a game apiece. In their last meeting, the Devils came away with a 4-3 win in overtime.
The Flyers continue to lead the league in road victories with a 16-7-2 record.
New Jersey is 22nd in the league in home wins with a 12-8-1 record.
It’s difficult to predict who Peter Laviolette will go with between the pipes for Saturday’s game.
Both Ilya Bryzgalov (17-10-3) and Sergei Bobrovsky (10-4-1) have only played a handful of games against the Devils. Bryzgalov’s numbers in those games are slightly better than his younger counterpart’s.
After facing the Devils three times in his career, Bryzgalov has a 2-1-0 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He recorded his first shutout as a Flyer against New Jersey.
Bobrovsky has only faced the Devils twice, and has a 1-0-1 record against them with a .908 save percentage and goals-against average of 2.88.
Of the two, Bobrovsky has certainly performed at a much higher level than Bryzgalov, and Laviolette is known to go with the hot hand. He also may want to save the veteran goaltender for Sunday’s game against the dangerous Boston Bruins.
For the Devils, Martin Brodeur will be in net. Brodeur has been sharing goaltending responsibilities with Johan Hedberg this season, and has struggled some.
In 29 games, he has a 14-11-1 record with a goals-against average of 2.83 and a save percentage of .895.
From an offensive standpoint, the Flyers by far have the upper hand. They’ve scored 150 goals in their first 45 games, whereas the Devils have only scored 127 in 46.
One of the Devils’ problems has been their lack of production from their bottom two lines. They made a move that would hopefully change the dynamic of those lines.
It was announced on Friday night that they acquired LW Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a prospect and a 2012 4th round pick. He will likely play on the 3rd line, though may not be in the lineup against the Flyers.
The Flyers cannot come out against the Devils with the same lackadaisical attitude they had against the Islanders. They will need to be firing on all cylinders to end this one in a victory, and then ride the momentum into Sunday’s game against the Bruins.
STEP UP PLAYERS