The second game of a three-game series between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils is here, and it could be a monumental one for both teams. The Devils can push themselves over the .500 threshold, and the Flyers can make their losing streak double digits. It’s a big night for both teams, and it’s all happening in Newark.
It has been a season full of ups and downs for a young Devils team. Dawson Mercer has lunged himself into talks for the Calder Trophy with 14 points in 23 games, and Dougie Hamilton is doing his thing by playing silently well on the blue line.
However, with that comes the fact that Jack Hughes was hurt for a considerable period and only recently came back to NHL ice in-game action. His first three games back were relatively uneventful on the scoresheet outside of an excellent put-back goal in front against the Winnipeg Jets. It was his first goal since opening night. We are slowly seeing him get back to normal, but as it usually does with injuries, it takes some time to get reacquainted with the ridiculous speed the NHL is built around.
In their last 10 games, the Devils are 2-5-3, with their only wins coming against the Tampa Bay Lightning and, you guessed it, the Flyers, who were the last team that they beat. They sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division with 23 points in 23 games, but they’re sitting on a four-game losing streak. A streak like that can be bad for a young team to go on, but learning to deal with the adversity and finding a way to win is what head coach Lindy Ruff should want to see.
Whether they’re winning or losing, you can expect the Devils to work hard for pucks down low, and with a combination of skill, speed, and overall grittiness, they can come out with a win over a team that is highly fragile. They have their own big reasons to win, and if we know anything about Ruff, he won’t let the losing streak get out of hand if he can. Especially after a tough loss to the Ottawa Senators, expect the Devils to come out flying against a team they know is losing confidence at an exponential rate.
The good thing is for the Flyers is that, while the Devils may have some good skill, they’re beatable. The offense looked reinvigorated after the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant Michel Therrien. The team scored five goals on 32 shots against the Colorado Avalanche’s young goaltender Justus Annunen. However, the defense was just as bad as the police K-9 taking a fat dump on the Flyers logo on the ice, allowing 50 total shots at seven goals with Martin Jones in net.
Tonight could be an extremely pivotal night. The losing streak could get to double digits, and not to beat a team like the Devils after losing to them twice already could show that this team doesn’t have what it takes to turn it around. The team must earn a victory because it will confirm many doubts from fans and media if they don’t.
With a record of 8-11-4, the Flyers sit right below the Devils at seventh in the Metropolitan Division. They have 20 points in 23 games, and the only player outside of the goaltending that has deserved better is Claude Giroux. He scored two goals in the game against the Avalanche, which has been the story of his season. He leads the team in points with 21 in 23 games, and the second-closest to that total is Cam Atkinson, who has 14 points in 23 games. Everyone else hasn’t been great, and the team’s record reflects that.
Tonight will test the resilience of a group that is currently spiraling out of control. Now that the Flyers have made a coaching change and have Mike Yeo running the team, for the time being, it’s time for the players to take a step up. The talent is there, but now it’s time for it to make an appearance. The schedule does get a bit easier for the next few games, so this is the Flyers’ chance at breaking what feels like an everlasting slide to the depths.
Oskar Lindblom - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Cam Atkinson
Morgan Frost - Claude Giroux - James van Riemsdyk
Derick Brassard - Patrick Brown - Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov - Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle - Nick Seeler
One thing to watch
These two teams have some of the worst power play numbers in the entire NHL. They also have some of the worst expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) among all teams. Instead of how much these two teams can play defense, my one thing to watch is how much scoring happens. The last two matchups have ended with the same score (5-2), and they have been entertaining games simply because of the lack of defense. There were tons of high-danger chances, and considering the already proven resume that both of these teams have, I have a sneaking suspicion that this game will be the same way. It looks like Hart may have his work cut out for him like he has the entire 2021-22 season. It could be a very long night, but hopefully, the losing streak ends here and now.
Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Flyers!