Flyers look to right ship against Devils
Philadelphia Flyers (0-2-0) vs. New Jersey Devils (1-0-0)
Prudential Center — Newark, NJ
7:30 p.m. on CSN
Setting the Stage:
Tuesday's game will be the home opener for the New Jersey Devils who are fresh off a Stanley Cup Finals run. The Devils lost superstar Zach Parise to free agency but still have many of their major pieces in Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrick Elias, and Travis Zajac. Zajac is fresh off an eight-year, $46 million contract extension and also scored a goal to lead the Devils to a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders.
The Flyers are not off to a great start as they have dropped back-to-back decisions to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres to open the season. In their most recent loss against the Sabres, the Flyers continued their struggles on the power play, going one-for-nine. The lone power-play tally came on an absolute laser of a one-timer from captain Claude Giroux. They were done in by a five-point afternoon from Sabres winger Thomas Vanek.
What to Expect:
The Devils always pose a threat to the Flyers and that was never more evident than in last season's playoff series. Ironically, the Devils will be raising their Eastern Conference Championship before Tuesday's contest.
However this team is quite different from last year's squad. After serving as New Jersey's captain for the 2011-2012 season, Zach Parise signed with the Minnesota Wild last summer and the Devils lost their offensive playmaker. Just before the season, the Devils named defenseman Bryce Salvador as the 10th captain in the organization's history.
The Devils are a very physical team and have always been that way. They outhit the Islanders 23-19 in their season-opening win. The defending Eastern Conference champions boast some big, physical defensemen in Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, and Salvador. They can throw the body and that's something that the Flyers' speedy forwards will have to watch out for.
The Flyers have started off the season struggling and have only netted three goals in two games. Giroux has two of the tallies and the lone power-play goal for the Flyers. Special teams has been absolutely dreadful and rank in the bottom half of the league in power-play and penalty-kill percentage.
Center Danny Briere is still recovering from a wrist injury and isn't expected to return until Saturday at the earliest. In his absence, the Flyers recalled winger Tye McGinn and he will play on a line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. Scott Laughton has been moved down to the fourth line and hasn't seen an abundance of ice time in his first two games.
The Masked Men:
As it was expected, Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in net for the Flyers. Bryzgalov has allowed six goals through two games but has played very well and kept his team in both games. The Russian netminder stopped 36 of 40 shots in a loss against the Sabres on Sunday.
On the other side, future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur will get the nod for the Devils. At the ripe age of 40, Brodeur is still at the top of his game. The Devils goaltender stopped 18 of 19 shots against the Islanders in the Devils' season opening win.
Keys to the Game:
1. Improve on the power play: The Flyers were only one-for-nine on the man-advantage against the Sabres and didn't fare much better in their season opener against the Penguins.
2. Dominate physical play: The Devils will come and will want to push the Flyers around. Philadelphia will need to be able to dish out the body and that will be a tough task as they may be without Zac Rinaldo.
3. Put pressure on Brodeur early: When facing one of the best netminders of all-time, the key is to pester him with shots early on and rattle him. The Flyers need to control play in the offensive zone if they want to win this Atlantic Division battle.