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Flyers at Devils recap: Bah humbug

Flyers came out flat against a reeling Devils team, losing 4-0 in the last game before the holiday break

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers couldn’t solve Schneider, who wasn’t tested, en route to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. The loss leaves a bit of a bitter taste before the holiday break, with the team losing their third game in four after their 10-game winning streak. The Flyers had only 16 shots on goal, a season low. It was, by far, their worst effort of the season.

The Flyers were facing their rivals for the first time this year. The Flyers came into tonight hoping to sweep a back-to-back and keep pace with a white-hot top of the Metropolitan division, that has seen a lot of seen a lot of separation between the top five teams and the other three. To that end, Dave Hakstol rolled the same lineup as last night’s shootout win over Washington, with Steve Mason getting the nod again after a stellar performance in the victory.

The Devils were mired in a slump, one that saw them lose 7 straight games — gaining only one point in the process — while being outscored 29-9. Ouch. New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider is also having an off year, with a GAA close to 3.00 and a save percentage of just .904 — both numbers well off his career averages of 2.23 and 0.923 respectively. He had allowed at least four goals in seven of his last 10 starts.

After a nondescript start, New Jersey got on the score sheet first with a power play goal via a PA Parenteau deflection off a Michael Cammalleri point shot. It was the first goal allowed in 17 penalties against the Flyers. The Devils weren’t done, scoring another goal off a brutal turnover in the Flyers zone. Miles Wood was given credit after a bit of a scrum in the crease, and after 13:26 it was 2-0 Devils.

The rest of the period had some extracurricular activities. A bunch of fights broke out, with Brandon Manning, Nick Cousins, Nick Gazdic and Vernon Fiddler involved in the first, with all participants getting roughing minors; Dale Weise, Seth Helgeson duking it out shortly after that with an undercard of Radko Gudas, Helgeson, Giroux and Damon Severson; and at the end of the period, Cammalleri and Nick Cousins settled their differences. Wayne Simmonds drew an extra penalty to give the Devils a power play to start the second, and a total of 46 PIM were assessed in the first. It was a period indicative of a frustrated team, and with the Devils’ recent woes it was expected that they might be a bit amped up for something like this. The Devils also got the better of the Flyers on the scoreboard with the two goals, and led the shot battle 8-6.

Steve Mason was benched after the first in favor of Anthony Stolarz after the first. No word was given on why this happened; it’s assumed Hakstol was trying to send a message to his team in addition to resting Mason after last night’s game. The Flyers did respond with a better effort to start the second, having killed the Simmonds penalty. They were nearly rewarded with a Michael Raffl goal, but Schneider was able to get his glove on the puck an instant before it would have crossed the line. The play went to review, and the call of no goal was upheld. Based on the views available, it was the correct call.

More nondescript play followed, and Adam Henrique managed to get one by Stolarz at 13:49 to increase the deficit to three. On the other end of the ice, the Flyers couldn’t get anything going in terms of offensive zone pressure and Schneider faced very few high-danger chances aside from the Raffl non-goal. Speaking of, Raffl left the game in the middle of the second with an apparent leg injury and did not return for the rest of the game. Hextall said in game that Raffl would be out for a week or two with a lower body injury. Great! Shots in the second were 9-7 Devils.

The third period was more of the same. More intercepted passes, more blocked shots, more penalties, another PPG for the Devils (Kyle Palmieri), more offensive futility and just overall uninspired play. It wasn’t good, and mama said if you can’t talk good about something then don’t say it at all. I have nothing left to say about this game.

Thankfully, the Flyers have some time before their next game Wednesday night in St. Louis. Even the best teams have games where the mail just doesn’t come through. Thankfully, Sean Couturier should be returning soon, along with Matt Read and Mark Streit, so hopefully those guys can help the team get over this game in short order.