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Game 57, Preview and Game Thread: Welcome To Philly, Kovy - New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

#2 New Jersey Devils (36-19-2, 74 pts) at #8 Philadelphia Flyers (28-25-3, 59 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
TV: Versus HD, TSN HD
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 205
This is the open game thread.
Get New Jersey reaction at In Lou We Trust

Ilya Kovalchuk has been a member of the New Jersey Devils for two games now, but he's yet to give the team the offensive spark they hoped he would bring. Will he score his first goal as a member of the Devils this evening in Philadelphia? Let's hope not.

New Jersey is in a much better situation than the Flyers. That much is evident by looking at the standings, or by just knowing that the Devils are the Devils. But right now, Newark's finest aren't playing so well. In fact, they're playing a lot like the Flyers.

Here's In Lou We Trust's John Fischer describing the Devils last outing:

42 shots, 5 power plays, all kinds of shots, rebounds, looks, and pressure, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped all but one. A second period surge got the Rangers 3 fairly quickly goals, but it was Lundqvist who bailed the Rangers out over and over and over before, during, and after that surge.

Juxtapose that with the Flyers game versus the Wild on Saturday and you have a nearly symmetrical situation: second period let down, a ton of shots, not so many goals. Should we expect the same thing again? Probably not.

The Devils will put Kovalchuk on a line with now-healthy Patrik Elias again and it's only a matter of time before they find chemistry. We can hope that it doesn't happen tonight, but more than likely we're going to need the Flyers offense to do some slump busting if they want points against the Devils over the next two games.

It's a matter of finishing. They're generating offense and spending time the opposing zone, but they just can't get the puck in the net. They need to take better shots, get more traffic in front of the goalie and most of all, be opportunistic in their chances. The Flyers can't afford to not score on three-on-one rushes tonight, for example.

On the flip side, the defense needs to hold up just like it has over the three-game road trip. As a whole they all played quite well and they'll need to keep it up again to keep Kovalchuk, Elias, and Zach Parise off the scoreboard.

Ville Leino won't make his Flyers debut tonight. Michael Leighton is in goal against Martin Brodeur, although he hasn't been confirmed. After the jump, full line combinations, stats on the starting goaltenders, questions to answer and our in-game discussion.

Flyers Line Combinations

Gagne - Richards - Hartnell
Powe - Carter - Briere
JVR - Giroux - Asham
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere

Pronger - Carle
Timonen - Krajicek
Bartulis - Coburn

New Jersey Line Combinations

Parise - Zajac - LangenbrunnerKovalchuk - Zubrus - Elias
Pandolfo - Niedermayer - Rolston
Peters - McAmmond - Zharkov

Salvador - Greene
Mottau - White
Salmela - Fraser

Starting Goaltenders - reminder: Brodeur likely not confirmed

Michael Leighton 21 1122 9 7 54 2.89 549 495 .902 1

Martin Brodeur 54 3142 33 18 118 2.25 1429 1311 .917 7

Questions To Answer

  1. Can the Flyers keep Kovalchuk off the board?
  2. Do they focus too much on the Kovalchuk/Elias line, giving room to Parise?
  3. Can the Flyers offense finish their chances and be opportunistic?
  4. Leighton hasn't been the reason for recent losses. Is he the main factor towards the decision tonight?

Tonight's game is, unfortunately, on Versus. Sorry, DirecTV customers -- but don't fret, we'll give you the play-by-play right here. Or, you can listen on 610 WIP. Or both. Huge game tonight as the 8th place Flyers sit three points behind the sixth place Canadiens and just two points ahead of the 12th place Panthers. None of the challengers are in action tonight, so a win is crucial. LET'S GO FLYERS!