New Jersey Devils (28-24-13) @ Philadelphia Flyers (33-24-7), 7:00pm, CSN-Philly/MSG Plus/RDS
Although they lost on Saturday to the Toronto Maple Leafs and squeaked out two wins against the Washington Capitals in a home-and-home, the Philadelphia Flyers enter tonight’s affair against the New Jersey Devils on a relatively quiet four-game point streak. One reason for the lack of comment on the point streak might be the discussion of whether or not Andrew MacDonald was a good addition to the Flyers’ blue line. Perhaps it might be due to the fact Steve Mason hasn’t exactly impressed in his last three tilts. No matter the cause, the Orange and Black look to extend their point streak to five before they start a tough stretch of games that begins over the weekend.
After the Maple Leafs scored twice within the game’s first 3:38, Mason and company settled down and forced the game past regulation with a 3-3 tie. Unfortunately for Philly, Joffrey Lupul scored in overtime to snap their three-game winning streak. With a home game tonight against a team below them in the standings, the Flyers look to return to the win column.
Some discussion has taken place recently about how often Mason has been playing. His play hasn’t been stellar lately, as he has allowed four goals against in each of his last three starts. In his defense, the former Columbus Blue Jacket has started all five games for the Flyers since the NHL has returned to action after the Olympic break. That isn’t a significant amount, but pair that with the fact Ray Emery is injured and it seems as though Craig Berube is rather hesitant to let Cal Heeter endure his first start, Mason may see his start streak reach double digits, which will ultimately led to fatigue and worse performances. With the team still in need of wins down the stretch, it may make sense for Berube to turn to Heeter against a “lesser” opponent to rest Mason.
Along with the play and use of Mason, another thing to look for tonight is if the Flyers can do the old cliché “play a full 60 minutes” for the first time in awhile. It was a slow start on Saturday against the Maple Leafs and a third-period collapse on Wednesday against the Caps that almost cost them the win, as the Flyers also only showed up for the third period in Sunday’s overtime win against Washington. It’s such a simple thing, but when you aren’t an elite team in the league like the Flyers, taking huge chunks of time off during the game will only lead to evaporated leads and widened deficits. The Orange and Black may steal another game while taking a period or more off tonight, but with the upcoming schedule, a lack of 60-minute performances will lead to nothing but embarrassing losses.
On the blue line, it will be interesting to see the play of Kimmo Timonen, as he nearly had a hat trick on Saturday with two goals and a third shot that clanked the post in the third period. The Flyers’ top pairing of Timonen and Braydon Coburn had all three of the team’s goals over the weekend, as Coburn tied it late to send the game to overtime. If Timonen and Coburn continue their offensive surge, and Mark Streit and MacDonald push the play with their defensive pairs, the Flyers can provide an offensive attack that can help lead to them cycling and possessing the puck more, which in turn leads to an easier night for Mason.
This is the Flyers’ final game before a three-day break leads them to a home-and-home with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and Sunday. After they visit Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Orange and Black have a four-game homestand that features contests against the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, and the Los Angeles Kings. We saw what happened when the Flyers played the Blackhawks and Stars earlier in the season, and the Kings were in a massive scoring slump when the Flyers shut them out last month, but now Los Angeles is currently on a lengthy winning streak and firing on all cylinders. Tonight is a must-win game due to the fact of how difficult the next few weeks might be for the Flyers.
New Jersey Devils
Against the Eastern Conference: 21-15-5
Against the Metropolitan Division: 12-8-3
Against the Eastern Conference: 21-13-6
Against the Metropolitan Division: 13-8-3
New Jersey Devils
Tuomo Ruutu – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Ryane Clowe – Adam Henrique – Patrik Elias
Damien Brunner – Dainius Zubrus – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier
Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador – Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas – Jon Merrill
Scott Hartnell – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Vincent Lecavalier – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Steve Downie – Sean Couturier – Matt Read
Zac Rinaldo – Adam Hall – Michael Raffl
Braydon Coburn – Kimmo Timonen
Mark Streit – Nicklas Grossmann
Andrew MacDonald – Luke Schenn
New Jersey Devils
Goals: Adam Henrique, 23
Assists: Jaromir Jagr, 35
Points: Jaromir Jagr, 55
Power-Play Points: Patrik Elias, Marek Zidlicky, and Eric Gelinas - 16
Plus/Minus: Jaromir Jagr, plus-17
PIMs: Marek Zidlicky, 50
Average TOI: Andy Greene, 24:34
GAA: Cory Schneider, 2.07
Save Percentage: Cory Schneider, .918
Goals: Claude Giroux, 23
Assists: Claude Giroux, 41
Points: Claude Giroux, 64
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux, 27
Plus/Minus: Erik Gustafsson, plus-9
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 117
Average TOI: Braydon Coburn, 22:34
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.63
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .913
New Jersey Devils
Ray Emery – Groin (doubtful)
Steve Downie – Illness (questionable)
Former Devils in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: Jeff Reese (goaltending coach)
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Yann Danis
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): NONE
Former Flyers in New Jersey’s organization
With New Jersey: Dainius Zubrus, Jaromir Jagr, Bob Hoffmeyer (pro scout), Johan Hedberg (special assignment coach).
With the Albany Devils (AHL): Scott Wedgewood (Trenton Titans), Chris McKelvie (Trenton Titans), Kelly Zajac (Trenton Titans), Rick Kowalsky (head coach, Trenton Titans), Dave Caruso (goaltending coach, Trenton Titans).
With the Elmira Jackals (ECHL): Maxim Lamarche (Adirondack Phantoms), Rob Bellamy (Adirondack and Philadelphia Phantoms), Jean Bourbeau (Adirondack Phantoms), Danny Hobbs (Greenville Road Warriors), Jordan Pietrus (Trenton Titans), Harry Young (Trenton Titans).