After putting the end to an eight-game losing streak, the Flyers are looking to start a winning streak for a change.
They’ll look to make it back-to-back wins when they visit the Devils this afternoon following a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk scored while Carter Hart was spectacular in making 37 saves as the Flyers downed the Stars to end their brutal losing skid.
Hart will be back between the pipes to get his first look at the division rival Devils, who have lost three-straight coming in. New Jersey has been outscored 12-3 during that losing skid, which included losses to the Golden Knights, Sabres, and Maple Leafs.
It’s the third meeting for the two clubs, who split the first two meetings with the Flyers winning 5-2 back in October and the Devils taking the matchup in November by a final of 3-0 with Keith Kinkaid registering the shutout. Much has happened since the last meeting, as the Flyers have plummeted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference and find themselves only ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in terms of NHL-wide standings. The Devils, meanwhile, aren’t far away, sitting with 39 points and just one lone point ahead of the Flyers.
Both teams have disapppointed this season, with each struggling to prevent goals. The Flyers are 29th overall allowing 3.57 goals per game, while the Devils allow 3.35 per game, good for 26th overall. They’ve also struggled to score goals, despite some offensive flair on each team, with the Flyers in 25th and the Devils 18th. One area the Devils do excel is on the penalty kill, where their 85.4% kill rate ranks second in the entire league. The Flyers’ penalty kill still stinks, but has climbed nearly four percentage points in the last few weeks and sits at 75.5%, good for 26th overall.
Kyle Palmieri, a noted Flyers killer, has reached the 20-goal mark and is second on the team behind Hall with 36 points in 10 more games. There’s also the No. 1 overall pick from the 2017 draft in Nico Hischier, who has 29 points in 39 games as he puts some separation between himself and that year’s No. 2 overall pick in the Flyers’ Nolan Patrick. Patrick has 11 points in 37 games and hasn’t scored since November. Taylor Hall, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, paces the Devils with 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games but has missed time due to injury and thankfully won’t be on the ice in this one.
A win would vault the Flyers over the Devils in the standings and perhaps over the Senators and Red Wings depending on results. While both teams should be racing towards the bottom of the standings, beating the Devils is always fun because, well, they’re the Devils and we just don’t like them very much.
Three things vs. Devils
The Flyers’ rookie netminder was just about the only reason they didn’t skate away with a ninth-straight loss against Dallas on Thursday. Hart was magnificent all night and stood tall facing a dangerous Stars offense with weapons like Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, and Jamie Benn (11 shots combined, two points) keeping the frozen rubber coming his way.
Now Hart faces a Devils team that can struggle to score at times, though he’ll have to pay extra attention to Hall and Palmieri. Both players have tortured Flyers goaltenders in their careers, but Hart has a fresh start and plenty of confidence coming off the Stars game. With the season nearly in the toilet, the progress and progression of Carter Hart is perhaps the most important thing left in the season.
James van Red-hot
We’ve been waiting for JVR to heat up and perhaps a two-point night against Dallas (one goal, one assist) is the springboard for the Flyers’ prized free-agent signing. The winger made a great pass to setup the Flyers’ first goal against the Stars, locating Travis Konecny in front of th net and hitting him with a backhand feed to start the scoring.
Then JVR got in on the scoring himself with a deflection from his office in front of the net on a delayed Stars penalty. The plan was to use JVR to try and boost the Flyers’ terrible second power play unit, but that unit is beyond saving and JVR will likely head to the first power play unit once Wayne Simmonds is shipped out of town.
Claude Giroux and friends could certainly use the net-front presence, as the Flyers’ 30th-ranked power play hasn’t been nearly as productive as it should be given the track record and skill of the guys being trotted out there.
Avoid the afternoon trap
Day games have seemed to be a huge issue for the Flyers in the last —what— decade? And they always seem to struggle against these very same Devils. Combine the time, opponent, and a road environment and this one spells trap for the Flyers.
And while the Flyers aren’t exactly in the playoff hunt, it would really stink to see the team hang Carter Hart out to dry as they often do to goalies in these matinee games. History says they probably will, but here’s to hoping they build off the Stars game and string together a few wins to look respectable before general manager Chuck Fletcher waives the white flag in a few weeks.
Also, losing to the Devils is the worst because the Devils are the absolute worst.
Palmieri has enjoyed playing the Flyers with 11 goals in 18 career games...as has Kinkaid with a 7-2 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. For the Flyers Claude Giroux has scored at a nice rate against the Devils with 43 points (11G, 32A) in 46 games but other numbers against New Jersey for the Orange and Black aren’t all that impressive.
Flyers’ Scott Gordon Subject to Change Lineup
Giroux — Couturier — Konecny
Lindblom — Patrick — Voracek
JVR — Laughton — Simmonds
Raffl — Varone — Weise
Provorov — Sanheim
Gostisbehere — Gudas
Hagg — Folin