Jersey Fresh: Flyers Look to Pick Two Points in the Garden State

 

The Matchup:

Philadelphia Flyers (6-7-1) at New Jersey Devils (8-2-3)
Prudential Center — East Rutherford, NJ
7:00 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet and 97.5 FM The Fanatic

Setting the Stage:

A well-rested Flyers squad will head into the North Jersey in hopes to continue their hot streak. In their last six games, the Flyers are 4-1-1, having gained huge ground after their terrible start.

New Jersey is hot too, having won five of their last six games. They lost this past Tuesday, 4-2, to the Hurricanes to snap the five-game winning streak they were previously on.

The two teams faced once already this season. New Jersey shutout the Flyers 3-0 on January 22, the third game of the season for the Flyers.

What to Expect:

The Flyers will have Sean Couturier back, which lifts a penalty kill unit that has been playing very well as of late. With Couturier back, it's expected that Harry Zolnierczyk will be scratched.

The penalty kill will need all the help it can get seeing as New Jersey has one of the top power plays in hockey. They have scored at least one power play goal in the last six games, improving to a 30.8% success rate on the man-advantage.

The Flyers scoring is now being lead by Jakub Voracek, who has 10 points (three goals, seven assists). He's been playing great, putting up seven points in his last six games including a pair of multi-point nights. Matt Read has a team-high five goals. 

The Flyers will once again have to play against Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was acquired the other day from Winnipeg (Flyers played Winnipeg on Tuesday).

David Clarkson is leading the Devils with nine goals and Patrick Elias has a team-high 15 points and 12 assists. Clarkson's production has been timely with New Jersey losing Zach Parise to free agency.

Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros are still out for the Flyers. New Jersey will be without Danius Zubrus, who had wrist surgery yesterday.

The Masked Men:

Ilya Bryzgalov will look to continue his string of excellent play for the Flyers. With a 6-6-1 record, 2.49 GAA and .913 save percentage, Bryzgalov has been the Flyers most consistent top performer.

Martin Brodeur has once again found the fountain of youth. Making 10 starts for the Devils, the future Hall of Famer has a 6-2-2 record, 2.36 GAA and .908 save percentage. 

Keys to the Game:

1. Clarkson. David Clarkson is one of the notorious pests in the NHL, and it doesn't help that he's scoring goals at an amarming rate either. The Flyers will need to knock him off his game and try and force him to revert back to his old ways. It won't be easy though as Clarkson is a master at that game.

2. Devils PP. New Jersey has one of the best power play units in the NHL and the Flyers have a penalty kill unit that is still in the bottom half of the league despite some recent encouraging play. It's going to be simple: the defensemen will have to clear the puck and Bryzgalov will need to be on his best while the Devils have the man advantage.

3. Luke Schenn's Hitting. If there is a good time for Luke Schenn to throw his body around, this is the game to do it. The NHL leader in hits with 55 through 14 games will need to lower the boom against New Jersey down low in hopes to keep the hardworking Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk off the puck.

Quotable

““It would have been easy for them to dwell on losing [Zach] Parise. You miss a 40-goal guy, it’s easy to look around your locker room and feel sorry for yourself... They’ve done it by committee. Seems like no matter who they switch in or out, they play by the same philosophy.”

- Flyers RW Mike Knuble on the Devils success without Parise.