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Preview: Egor, fetch me the Brian (Elliott)

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The Flyers play the Devils again. Yay.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Flyers are playing the second of their four consecutive games against the Devils, because the universe (or Gary Bettman) has a cruel and dark sense of humor at our collective expense. Not much has changed since Sunday, but there are some talking points worth focusing on in this preview. What are the storylines, who are the players to watch, and why should you care? All of this and more below.

The Flyers

After a thrilling yet infuriating victory over the Devils on Sunday, the Flyers come into this game with a few key changes and things to watch. The main thing that’s on everyone’s mind is the impending debut of top-end prospect Egor Zamula, the former Calgary Hitmen UDFA signing under Ron Hextall. Zamula has been productive enough in the AHL this season, but he had a rough go of things prior to Lehigh Valley’s COVID break. In the three games since, the 21-year-old beanpole has been outstanding, rocking a high-end analytical profile that’s more befitting of his status within the organization.

Zamula will look to make an impact early in an end of season stretch that’s essentially functioning as an audition for next year. If he proves that he’s anything resembling NHL ready, that could slightly alter Philly’s plans for his trajectory and development in the long term. The Flyers clearly view Zamula and Cam York as the team’s immediate option to replenish the defense, should drastic changes need to occur (IE if one of Sanheim or Myers gets moved). Speaking of York, if Sam Morin continues to look like a pumpkin on skates in the next few games, expect him to get a short look as well; the Michigan product had three points in his first period (!) as a Phantom, and the organization is extremely high on his potential.

As for who’s worth watching among the guys already getting NHL time, the list is pretty short: Claude Giroux, Wade Allison, and I guess Jackson Cates, if only because he’s a semi-unknown quantity who has a slight chance of being an effective NHL fourth-liner. Other than them, the whole team is rough to look at. Shayne Gostisbehere and Carter Hart are missing, Sean Couturier looks like he’s still playing through an injury, Morin has regressed from his promising start and has been an overaggressive turnstile, and the young talent and veterans in the middle six alike have failed to pop.

Allison has been entertaining both on and off the ice, so he remains one of the few things that Flyers fans can cling to for some form of entertainment during games. Giroux is coming off of another clutch performance and has been the team’s best player this year at 33 years old, so he’s worth celebrating. Cates is whatever, but he presents an opportunity to exercise your player analysis muscles, something I always find entertaining. Other than that, I don’t have much for y’all. This will certainly be A Hockey Game. [Ed. note: Will it, though?]

The Devils

Same story, different day for New Jersey. After a monumental collapse on Sunday, the Devils will look to run it back and come away with a win via a similar process. Lindy Ruff and company clearly have an offensive recipe for success with their speedy wingers, a truth that became quite evident on the first few goals the Devils managed. Beating a slow Flyers team with guys like Miles Wood and Jesper Bratt flying in wide down the boards shouldn’t be too difficult a task, but these are the Devils, so nothing is that simple. New Jersey’s special teams situation is pathetic, even when compared to their orange-clad counterparts, and aside from the top six there’s not much impact to be found. Again, keep an eye on Sharangovich; he threatened to score multiple times on Sunday. Maybe we’ll get some Egor on Egor violence? Who knows.

Three Big Things

  1. Tonight is all about looking to the future. Concern yourself primarily with how Zamula looks, and attempt to understand that this is a single game sample when evaluating him in the long run. With the games largely being meaningless at this point, Flyers fans should be doing what the team is doing: deciding how much they like the players they have, and how much incentive they need to part with them. Big Zam could easily be part of a trade package, and this is a good chance to see how he’ll stack up as an asset.
  2. Try to just enjoy and appreciate the sicko-ness of this game. These are two teams playing nigh-unwatchable hockey, so it’s all about finding the stuff that Phillies fans often entertain themselves with in the late summer days: oddities. Weird and hilarious shit happens all the time in these games, so seek out something that will make you laugh.
  3. MacKenzie Blackwood will reportedly get the start again tonight. Which version of him shows up will likely determine the outcome of this game, so if he’s making some big saves early it’s fair to be a bit concerned. When that dude is on, he’s on.

Game Day Tunes

Continuing our run of Devil-related music, we have this little jam. It’s a shame that the Devils won’t be relocating to revive the Thrashers any time soon.

Happy game day, and as always, go Flyers.