What to Watch For: The Flyers have one of the most efficient penalty kill units in the league, and it's getting to the point where being shorthanded is almost a good thing for this team. They lead the league in shorthanded goals with 10, while the Devils only have 11 POWER PLAY goals. That's right, the Flyers penalty kill is just as dangerous as the Devils power play. Insanity.
But as Tom Guilitti of The Bergen Record wrote in his blog today, "Sutter said "it's possible" he'll use five forwards on the first power-play unit on Thursday. The Devils practiced that today with Rolston and Jamie Langenbrunner on the points and Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias up front."
This could have two effects. One, the obvious one that Sutter is hoping for, is that the Devils score more goals with five forwards. The more likely one in my eyes, which benefits the Flyers, is that the lack of any defensive presence on the PP will give our boys more offensive opportunity on the PK. A risky move by Sutter, indeed.
Scouting the Enemy: Devils missing their anchor
Between The Pipes: It looks like Scott Clemmensen will get the nod for the Devils tonight. He's performed well enough in Marty Brodeur's absence thus far, posting a 4-3 record with a 2.55 GAA and a save percentage over .900. The Delco Times pointed out today that "it will be the first time the Flyers face the Devils without Brodeur in goal since Feb. 27, 2002 when John Vanbiesbrouck subbed for Brodeur against the Flyers." I think that's false, because if I remember correctly the Flyers ran Brodeur from the net back in April at the Center in the game that clinched a playoff spot for the orange and black.
Marty Biron goes again for the Flyers. He came up huge late on Tuesday night with two breakaway stops on Ryan Malone, allowing the game to get to overtime, where Mike Richards blew a shot by Tampa's Mike Smith for the win.
- There are conflicting reports as of this writing on Matt Carle. Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly is reporting that Carle will not play this evening, while Bill Meltzer of Hockeybuzz is reporting Carle will play. We'll know at game time, I guess.
- As we know, from Tuesday night, Danny Briere will miss 4 to 5 more weeks with a groin injury. His injury and placement on the LTIR, however, allows Randy Jones to come back around Christmas without the Flyers struggling to make him fit on the roster.
- It was reported that Devils forward Bobby Holik has been cleared to play by doctors, however he will not be in the lineup this evening.
- Brian Rolston will be back in the Devils lineup tonight after missing 18 games. John Madden will also play, returning from a foot injury.
- Obviously, Brodeur is still out.
Hot Off The Presses: Ed Moran of the Daily News talks about lovin' Scott Hartnell. Anthony SanFilippo of the Delco Times wrote about Briere's injury, as did Chuck Gormley at the Courier Post, Panaccio at CSN, and Sam Carchidi at the Inquirer. Panaccio also wrote how the Flyers don't miss Brodeur.
Behind Enemy Lines: In Lou We Trust. ILWT is an excellent Devils blog by John Fischer, and a few days ago he wrote an excellent piece on the trials and tribulations of the Devils during the month of November. An excerpt:
Martin Brodeur tore a tendon in left elbow and will be out of action for 3-4 months. That was just the big exclamation point to start a month where free agent signings Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston as well as defenseman Andy Greene were already injured. At one point or another this month John Madden, Brian Gionta, and Bryce Salvador among others missed games due to injury.
This month was not only a trial of whether the Devils could succeed in spite of their injuries, but without the cornerstone of the franchise for the better part of the last decade and a half: Martin Brodeur. The results were mixed, largely driven how the offense would find success on a given night or the lack thereof.
December 4th in Flyers/Devils History: The teams have played one time on December 4th, in 1988. The Flyers won 6-2 in front of 17,423 at the Spectrum. Backed by Mark Laforest's 34 saves, Philly scored four goals in the second period en route to the victory.
Let's Go Flyers!