Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils

“Game of the Night” is a feature that takes a daily look at the best game on the NHL schedule, and sets it up for you. So y’know, you should probably watch the game below. This is brought to you by the Werner Ladder Company (check out their hockey vid here), because how else do you think the bulbs in the red goal light get changed?

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Who:

New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Records:

New Jersey Devils: 13-9-5 (last 10: 3-6-1) – 6th in East, 31 points

Philadelphia Flyers: 12-15-1 (last 10: 4-6-0) – 11th in East, 25 points

Justification:

What, you wanted Nashville/Calgary?

Head-to-head:

This is the fourth time they’ve played; New Jersey won the previous three games. Hell, if you want to go back further, they’ve beaten the Flyers seven straight times.

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST

Need to know:

* Ilya Bryzgalov said before this home-and-home versus the Devils that if they got swept, their season was done. They already lost the first one. Yiiii.

* The Flyers have lost four of their last five, and while it’s fun to say “they’re too good to be this bad,” they’re running out of time to prove it.

* Bryzgalov is about to start his 27th game of the season (of a possible 29). No other goalie has played more than 23 (via NHL.com).

* Johan Hedberg is about to set a personal best with 11 straight starts (though it’s worth noting that he is not very good by NHL standards. So there, it’s been noted).

* Ilya Kovalchuk has points in five straight games (it’s worth noting that he is very good by NHL standards. So there.)

Player stats: 

flydevs

Injuries (via NHL.com):

Brodeur, Tallinder and Dainius Zubrus (left wrist) are all on the Devils’ injured reserve list. … The Flyers are without Tye McGinn (orbital) and Jody Shelley (hip). Luke Schenn sat out the game Wednesday with the flu.

Goaltenders:

Johan Hedberg and Ilya Bryzgalov, though the latter is still technically unconfirmed.

What I’m looking forward to:

Oddly, I’m looking forward to watching Travis Zajac and figuring out what the heck is wrong with him. In the past eight games he has no goals, two assists and is minus ten. Not that plus minus is a huge deal, but this dude hasn’t had a plus game since February 24th, the last time he scored. He has 4 and 4 for 8 total points in 27 games. Less-than-ideal from a guy you signed through 2021 at $5.75M per.

Also, I’ll be trying to figure out what’s up with Philly. Between Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Courturier and others, I cannot understand why they’re doing so poor.

Prediction:

No-brainer for me – desperate Flyers team at home against Hedberg. Book it.

Game of the Night prediction record:

2-2-0

When you’re picking the most interesting games, they’re never going to be easy predictions. Just trying to keep my head above water.

Comments (8)

  1. Couple days ago the 2 high priced players went head to head on a breakaway.
    Kovalchuk made Bryzgalov look like an over priced chump.
    Beat him clean.

    • I recall DGB tweeting last year during the playoffs that if anything, the Devils-Flyers series has proved that signing players named Ilya to massive deals has a 50% of panning out favourably. Not hard to tell which team won that “coin toss”.

    • Kovy is pretty amazing on the breakaway (check out his shootout scoring percentage from last year, wow). Not many guys in the NHL can stickhandle the way he does coming in on a goalie alone.

  2. Bourne, I think the problem with the Flyers is from last year’s team you subtract: Matt Carle, Pronger, JVR and Jagr and you add Luke Schenn and Bruno Gervais (and an improved or more fortunate Voracek).

    I know you’ve commented on the turnover before, but it’s not like last year’s team was a juggernaut either. They were good, but not awesome.

    Factor in that Giroux has been pretty unlucky (PDO, shooting percentage etc.) and that Bryz has been somewhere between bad and “meh” and that’s your answer.

    For all the criticism he took last year, Bryz was pretty good in the second half of the year.

    I think they had a ceiling of 5th or 6th in the East this year. And for the most part we’ve seen basement level performances. They’re probably a better team than this, but not much.

    • Bryz isn’t the problem with this Philly team…the problem is their play in their own end. It’s just brutal to watch how lost they are down there.

  3. Ouch, the Hedburg burn. As far as backups go, he certainly isn’t _that_ bad.

    • He’s been pretty bad the last 10 games or so (been pulled twice for a rookie 3rd stringer), though the Devils wouldn’t have won the games even if he’d played well since they couldn’t score to save their lives….

  4. “they’re too good to be this bad,”

    First off, Philly has a lot of talent, yes…but they are a deeply flawed team. They don’t have the right distribution of talent. They look completely lost in the defensive zone. This was especially exposed with the Devils cycling in the playoffs last year…Add to it that you don’t know which Bryz will show up each night – even when he’s great, they *types* of shots that he sees are just crazy.

    On the plus minus thing, the past 10 or so games (before the last one), the Devils have averaged maybe 2 goals for a game, plus Clarkson, Henrique, Zajac, and several others were in scoring slumps during that span…and they lost like 7 in a row, so yeah, that’s not going to help your plus minus. Unfortunately, that wasn’t just Zajac…pretty much the whole team except for Loktionov, Carter, Bernier, and Gionta weren’t scoring. Needless to say, it was really ugly.

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