Weekly Flyers Preview: January 6-12

This week, the Flyers face a familiar rival as well as two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 @ New Jersey Devils (17-18-8, 42 points, 6thMetropolitan)

The Flyers split two games with the Devils in early November, but the teams have been going in different directions since.  While the Flyers have shot up the standings to second in the division, the Devils have been stuck around the .500 mark, leaving them in sixth. 

New Jersey has not been able to put many streaks together this season, with only one three game winning streak and two three (or more) game losing streaks.  They have lost their last two games.

Like teams of past years, the Devils don’t score much.  They average 2.35 goals per game, which ranks 26th.  Old friend Jaromir Jagr co-leads the club in goals (13) with Michael Ryder.  Jagr also is first in points with 34 and has been the only Devil with 100 shots on goal.  Adam Henrique has nine goals, while Dainius Zubrus has eight. 

The Devils don’t allow goals, either, as they are eighth in the league in goals against average (2.42). Old foe Marty Brodeur will be in net for the Devils Tuesday.  Brodeur has split time with Cory Schneider this season but Brodeur has won 12 games compared to Schneider’s five.  Brodeur has allowed 2.36 goals per game while saving 90.3 percent of shots. New Jersey has only won 16% of the time when allowing the first goal, so getting on the board first is very important.

Special teams have been a strong suit for New Jersey. Their power play is 13th in the league, scoring on 18.2 percent of man advantages.  Defenseman Marek Zidlicky has five goals on the power play, while Ryder has four. They are third in the league in penalty killing, at 86.1 percent. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 vs. Montreal Canadiens (25-14-5, 55 points, 2nd Atlantic)

In their last game against the Canadiens December 12, the Flyers took the victory, hanging on to win 2-1. 

The Canadiens are second in the Atlantic despite the 21st ranked offense. They average only 2.52 goals per game, but have five players in double digits.  Max Pacioretty’s 19 lead the team, followed by Tomas Plekanec’s 13, Brendan Gallagher’s 11, and Alex Galchenyuk & Lars Eller, both with ten.  When the Habs score first, they win 82% of the time.

Where Montreal excels is keeping the puck out of their net.  Their 2.27 goals against average is tied for third.  Carey Price is having another fantastic season, going 20-11-4 while ninth in the leaue in goals against average (2.22) and tied for sixth in save percentage (.928). The likely Canadian Olympic goalie has given opponents a hard time, but has not been as good away from Bell Centre (7-5-1, 2.44 GAA, .916 save percentage).

Unlike most teams, the Canadiens have better special teams on the road.  Their road power play ranks ninth at 22.2%. Overall, they score on 20.1% of man advantages, and Pacioretty leads the club with six power play goals.  Montreal’s road penalty killing is tops in the league at 88.9%.  They also have four shorthanded goals, which is tied for fourth in the league.

Saturday, January 11, 2014 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (25-13-4, 54 points, 3rd Atlantic)

On Thanksgiving Eve, these two teams squared off , with the Lightning picking up the two points. Despite missing Steven Stamkos, the Lightning have played well, going 11-5-3 dating back to November 25.

Tampa’s offense is 12th in the league, averaging 2.71 goals per game, but has struggled on the road, only scoring 2.18 goals. The Lightning have four active players with double digit goals, not including Stamkos’ 14. Martin St. Louis leads the team with 17 and is followed by Valtteri Filippula (16), Tyler Johnson (11) and Alex Killorn (10). Scoring first is a priority, as Tampa wins 84% of the time they strike first.

The Lightning average only 2.33 goals per game, which ranks fifth in the league.  Ben Bishop has been great this season for Tampa, but was injured in Sunday’s game against Edmonton.  If Bishop (22-5-3, 1.86 GAA, 93.5%) is not healthy forSaturday, it will be Anders Lindback in net.  Lindback has gone 3-8-1 this season, with a 3.21 GAA and .883 save percentage.

Led by St. Louis and Filippula’s four power play goals, the Lightning are 21st on the man advantage at 16.7 percent.  Their penalty killing is middle of the pack, killing off 82.5% of penalties, which ranks 13th.

Weekly Expectations: 4 points

Since Nov. 18 Dan has been predicting Flyers points.

Realdeal: 30

Flyers: 30