The Flyers once again come into this matchup looking for a win. After taking their 4th loss in a row and losing by one goal yet again (take away Ovechkin’s two ENGs), the Flyers are looking for some sort of answer. It may come tonight against the struggling New Jersey Devils. This will be the 3rd matchup of 4 for these teams this season. The first two tilts were in Philly where each team took 2 points.
At this point, these two teams are trending in opposite directions with the Devils currently leading the Metropolitan division and the Flyers, doing quite the opposite of their name, free falling. This game will be played a little closer to home as the Flyers return back to the East Coast and only about an hour and some change from the Wells Fargo Center to close out their road trip.
A win here tonight would do wonders for the confidence levels of the guys on the bench. A team full of young talent who only knows losing is not something you want. While Torts has continued to change the standard and overall culture of this franchise and its players, they are still just heavily outmatched by most teams while lacking a true sniper. Goals by committee is good, but that is only when everyone is pitching in.
Tonight starts a crucial 3 games for the Flyers to turn things around and ultimately score some goals and get some points. You have two games at home against Metro division opponents and swinging 6 points won’t do much for your playoff standings, but it gives you the ability to breathe.
Philadelphia Flyers (9-14-7) 7th in the Metro
The Flyers had a rough go in the West losing to the Knights and Coyotes in overtime and the Avalanche in another close game. The effort level is there and the will to win alongside it. There just isn’t enough firepower to help this team get over the hump. Consistently losing hockey games by 1 goal, obviously taking out the ENGs, is a backbreaker. You know you have been in every game, but also have to recognize that you just aren’t good enough.
Without Tony DeAngelo again for family matters, the defensive pairings will stay the same. At this point, Cam York needs to stay in your lineup on a daily basis. York has proven to be sharper than he was in the preseason and looks determined to stay up in the NHL. York picked up his first goal of the season against Colorado and what a goal it was.
After sidestepping his man after getting the puck off the faceoff, York drove to the net and fired it on. It may have hit JVR in front, but it bounced down allowing him to recover the rebound and go with a backhanded elevated shot over the pad of Francouz for a beauty. Torts has had nothing but praise for York and something tells me he is going to be staying up for the rest of the season.
Kevin Hayes currently has 29 points in 30 games. While his offensive production has been up, asking him to be a number 1 center consistently has also put a toll on his game. Hayes is being asked to go out there, produce as much offense as he can, but also shut down the opposing top-line center. While he is playing the wing with Noah Cates playing center, the defensive responsibilities still fall towards Hayes as he is the veteran of the line.
The difference between and him Couturier as top-line centers, and it’s not the Selke, is what is their playstyles. Couturier also has a north mindset always looking to get the puck moving to allow him to get in front of the net or create chaos in the zone and crash toward the net for rebounds. Hayes likes to slow the game down and ultimately control the pace.
At times it may work, but in the zone, Hayes likes to sit between the faceoff circles. While Hayes will forecheck, he tends to stay away from behind the net. If Couturier can come back this season and Hayes can be the number 2, his numbers offensively would skyrocket more than they already are.
Carter Hart is back in the net for the Flyers. Hart had his first game off in quite some time against the Avalanche. Hopefully, the rest will do him well. Seeing as much rubber as he has can be quite taxing for a young goalie. While his confidence level may not have wavered at all, his body language during the Arizona game spoke of that of a tired player. Fatigue sets in and no amount of conditioning will stop that. We sometimes forget Hart is human because of how good he is.
Hart has seen 684 shots this season. Hart is 4th in the league with the most Shots Against. Hart also has the 4th most saves in the leagues this season as well. If it wasn’t for his play in net, this team would be blown out nightly.
Hart has absolutely done everything he can to help this team win and while he has given up some bad goals, it is also on the rest of his team to pick him up when that happens. Carter Hart on a much better team could be up for a Vezina this season if his team could score goals and win hockey games.
Philadelphia Flyers Potential Lineup
Kevin Hayes – Noah Cates – Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton – Lukas Sedlak – Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk – Morgan Frost – Owen Tippett
Nicolas Deslauriers – Patrick Brown – Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Travis Sanheim – Justin Braun
Cam York – Nick Seeler
New Jersey Devils (21-6-2) 1st in the Metro
The Devils have been playing well above their pay grade this season and it’s about time. With the Devils tanking and being a bottom-feeder in the NHL for the last 7-10 years, this team was bound to be good at some point. Having multiple number 1 overall picks, finding the right goalie to develop and make your starter and making the moves to bring in veteran talent and leadership seemed to finally find this team. The only thing is, we know this won’t last forever for this young Devils’ team and we can already see them falling back down to the Earth.
The last time these two teams met, the Devils looked nothing like a 1st place team. The Flyers ultimately outplayed the Devils, especially in the 3rd period, but fell as the bounces and a goal given up on bad communication between Hart and Seeler led to a Devils win. If the Flyers’ 3rd goal would have counted and Morgan Frost never hit the goalie, the Flyers would have more than likely found the game-winner in that game.
Jack Hughs and Nico Hischier are finally both playing at an extremely high level. Jack Hughs has 15 goals and 19 assists in 29 games with Hischier behind him with 13 goals and 16 assists. These two are big cornerstone pieces for this franchise and need to continue to play as such. If they can continue their great play with guys like Jesper Bratt and Yegor Sharangovich adding goals as well. This team will continue to win hockey games. It’s not a bad thing when Dougie Hamilton finally seems to be playing like his old self from Carolina.
Vitek Vanecek is projected to get the start tonight. At 12-2-0, Vanecek has been everything the Devils have been looking for. A goalie who can backstop them. For years, the Devils tried to develop goalies and to no avail. Vanecek has been the best goalie for the Devils in years boasting an SV% of .912 and a GAA of 2.39. His play has been absolutely off the wall, and it begins to ask the question for the Capitals as to why they let him walk.
New Jersey Devils Projected Lineup
Erik Haula – Jack Huges – Dawson Mercer
Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Yegor Sharangovich
Andreas Johnsson – Jesper Boqvist – Fabian Zetterlund
Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves – John Marino
Kevin Bahl – Damon Severson
When, Where, How to watch/listen
When: 7 PM
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Listen: 97.5 the Fanatic
Stream: Fubo TV
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