The Flyers can put the Devils in a deep, deep hole tonight with a victory over the Devils, and they're in a ridiculously strong position to do just that. Ilya Kovalchuk is out of the New Jersey lineup, and that leaves them a much easier team to face tonight in Game 2 at Wells Fargo Center.
The trickle-down effect on the lineup will certainly impact the Devils. The Daily News posted a look at New Jersey's adjusted forward lines without Kovalchuk, as they looked in practice this morning.
Parise - Elias - Clarkson
Ponikarovsky - Zajac - Zubrus
Sykora - Henrique - Bernier
Gionta - Carter - Harrold/Sestito
The Sestito addition is ours, as reports indicate it could be either Peter Harrold or Tim Sestito, the brother of Flyers tough guy Tom, on that fourth line tonight. Long story short, though, is that losing Kovalchuk makes the Devils weaker across the board. David Clarkson on that top line instead of Kovalchuk? Yeah.
Sure, that unit still looks dangerous, as Parise has moved up to play alongside Elias, but the second line thus gets weaker with Alexei Ponikarovksky moving down. No matter which way Devils coach Peter DeBoer slices it up, his lineup is weaker sans Kovalchuk.
For a Flyers team that utterly dominated the latter two periods of Game 1 -- you know, after they got out of the cozy bed that was the first period -- the prospect of a weaker opponent in Game 2 should have them salivating. If they show up and play a full 60 minutes tonight as they did the final 40 or so on Sunday, beating the Devils shouldn't be an issue. We'd have to expect them to go with the same lineup this evening.
Then again, it's playoff hockey. This shit be crazy. Our game thread will be up around 5 or 5:30 p.m. Tonight's game is on NBC Sports Network, 610 WIP and CBC in Canada. For more from the New Jersey side of things, check in with In Lou We Trust.