Claude Giroux passes the puck to Scott Hartnell in a home win against the Washington Capitals. Image c/o Amy Irvin of 38Photography.
The Philadelphia Flyers gained five of a possible six points last week as they won both games in a home-and-home series with the Washington Capitals, and lost in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs. On the bright side, the Flyers are in sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division with 73 points. Unfortunately that lead is by the slimmest of margins and the playoff race is still extremely tight, as the New York Rangers have 72 points, the Columbus Blue Jackets have 71 points, the Washington Capitals have 70 points, and the New Jersey Devils have 69 points. That means the best chance the Flyers have to make the playoffs is really by holding onto one of the top three spots in the Metropolitan.
Claude Giroux was held without a point in last night’s loss, but he has finally reached a point per game pace as he now has 64 points (23 goals, 41 assists) in 64 games. Jake Voracek is second on the team in points with 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists), and has seven points in his last three games, while Scott Hartnell has a point in each of his last two games and has 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) on the year.
The Flyers have two games this week, both against divisional rivals: one against the New Jersey Devils and the front of a back-to-back home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can purchase tickets to all Philadelphia Flyers games at tiqiq.com.
New Jersey Devils on 03.11.2014 at 7:00 PM in Philadelphia
This will be the fourth of four meetings between these two clubs this season. The Flyers are ahead in the season series 2-1. The teams have traded shutouts as Philadelphia won the first game by a score of 1-0, New Jersey took the second game by a score of 3-0, and the last game went to overtime before the Flyers won it on Brayden Schenn’s 11th goal of the season. Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell also scored for Philadelphia, while Nicklas Grossmann had two helpers en route to a 3-2 overtime victory. In the first game, the Flyers received their lone tally from the younger Schenn and Ray Emery got the shutout. In the second game the Devils received goals from Adam Henrique, Cam Janssen, and Jaromir Jagr while Martin Brodeur stopped all 22 shots fired his way.
The Devils are led by ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr with 55 Points (20 goals, 35 assists). Patrik Elias has 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 50 games this year. Adam Henrique has 38 points (23 goals, 15 assists), defenseman Marek Zidlicky has 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists), and Travis Zajac has 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists). Deadline acquisition Tuomo Ruutu had a goal and an assist in his second game with New Jersey.
The Devils have received strong goaltending from one half of their goaltending tandem, and less than stellar goaltending from the other half despite having the better record. Cory Schneider has received most of the starts and he owns a 12-13-9 record, with a 2.07 goals against average, a .918 save percentage, and three shutouts. His backup, Martin Brodeur, has had a rough go numbers-wise, but has been serviceable as he is 16-11-4, with a 2.54 goals against average, a .898 save percentage, and three shutouts as well.
Staying out of the box has been a problem all year for the Flyers and if they get into penalty trouble against the Devils’ seventh ranked power play it could spell trouble because on the road the Devils operate at a flat 24.0% success rate on the man advantage. That said, if the Flyers can manage to beat Brodeur or Schneider a few times, they have a good shot at winning this game because the Devils just do not have the depth up front that the Flyers do.
Pittsburgh Penguins on 03.15.2014 at 1:00 PM in Philadelphia
The Pittsburgh Penguins are again at the top of the Eastern Conference with 88 points. They have a hefty 15 point lead in the standings on the Flyers and have a goal differential of +44, which is good enough for fourth in the NHL. This will be the third of five meetings between the two teams and the front half of a home-and-home series consisting of back-to-back games. The teams have split the season series to date as Pittsburgh easily handled Philadelphia back in October with a 4-1 win on Wells Fargo Center ice and at the Consol Energy Center, the Flyers won by a score of 2-1. In the first game, Pittsburgh received goals from Jussi Jokinen, Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin while Wayne Simmonds notched the lone goal for Philadelphia. Malkin and Crosby each had two points on the night. In the second contest, Brayden Schenn scored two goals and Sidney Crosby had the lone goal for the Penguins.
As per usual, Crosby leads all Penguins players and the entire NHL in scoring. He has 84 points (29 goals, 55 assists). Malkin has 64 points (19 goals, 45 points) in just 52 games. Chris Kunitz has 57 points (29 goals, 28 assists), James Neal has 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists), Jussi Jokinen has 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists), and defenseman Matt Niskanen has 37 points (nine goals, 28 assists).
In net, the Penguins have relied heavily on Marc-Andre Fleury as he is 33-14-3, with a 2.31 goals against average, a .916 save percentage, and four shutouts on the year. His backup, Jeff Zatkoff, is 9-3-1, with a 2.75 goals against average, a .910 save percentage, and one shutout.
The Penguins are a deep team up front. They can score at will and have two of the best players in the world centering their top two lines in Crosby and Malkin. That said, they are prone to taking bad penalties against the Flyers, especially this time of the year and are just 5-3-2 in their last 10. If the Flyers can goad the Penguins into playing undisciplined hockey, then they will have a good shot at coming away with the two points here.