The New Jersey Devils (27-36-14) take on the Philadelphia Flyers (27-32-8) in their fourth of five meetings this season; the two teams will meet again on Monday at The Rock for the back end of a home-and-home series. The Devils are 3-0-0 (!) against the Flyers this season, and while Philadelphia is clinging onto slim playoff hopes, a loss tonight would almost guarantee mathematical elimination from playoff contention. The Devils may want to spoil their chances (and it would be so satisfying).
The Devils posted a 4-0 shutout in their first meeting; P.A. Parenteau, Miles Wood, Adam Henrique, and Kyle Palmieri all scored goals while Cory Schneider made 16 saves to pick up the shutout. Jersey native Anthony Stolarz made 12 saves (14 against) (.857 save percentage) but was pulled in favor of Steve Mason, who stopped 6 shots on 8 faced (.750 save %).
The Devils then marched into the Wells Fargo Center and won 4-1; Wood (2!), Palmieri, and Pavel Zacha all scored goals while Keith Kinkaid made 35 saves on 36 shots against (.972 save %). Michal Neuvirth started in net and made 22 saves on 25 shots against (.880 save %) but was pulled for Steve Mason (3/4 shots saved, .750 save %). Nick Cousins scored the lone Philadelphia goal.
Their last meeting came about two weeks ago, a 6-2 New Jersey thrashing. Palmieri, Henrique (2), Taylor Hall (2), and Joseph Blandisi all scored goals in the effort, while Kinkaid made 17 saves on 19 shots against (.895 save %). Steve Mason started this time (smart!) but he stopped just 19 of 23 shots against (.826 save %) and was pulled for Neuvirth (4/5 shots against, .800 save %). Michael del Zotto and Brayden Schenn scored goals for the Flyers.
So tonight’s goaltending decision? Schneider will be in net for the Devils, while the Flyers will go with Neuvirth. They still have something to play for (in terms of playoff picture) but the Devils have had fun with all three Flyers goalies that they’ve faced. Mason will start tomorrow night against the Rangers.
The Devils did not have a morning skate (they played in Brooklyn last night). Michael Cammalleri returned to the lineup yesterday and may stay in it. Jon Merrill may be a healthy scratch for the third straight game, unfortunately, but I liked what I saw from Michael Kapla last night and I hope he stays in the lineup. Dalton Prout was also a healthy scratch but Jacob Josefson may return to the lineup soon.
Funnily enough, the Devils are outscoring the Flyers 14-3 in the season series; they have not allowed Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, or Shayne Gostisbehere to score against them. Philadelphia is slightly better in the faceoff circle. The Devils have gone 5/16 on the power play in that span. They have also not allowed a single power play goal on Philly’s 11 chances.
The Flyers have won their last three, and four of five overall. They last played the Islanders on Wednesday night, and defeated them 6-3. Dale Weise, Brandon Manning, Radko Gudas, Jordan Weal, Wayne Simmonds, and Valtteri Filppula all scored in the effort, and Mason made 38 saves on 41 shots against (.927 save %). Nick Cousins, Roman Lyubimov, and Nick Schultz were all healthy scratches. Matt Read is out for 6-8 weeks with an upper body injury. The Flyers did sign Mike Vecchione but he probably won’t make his NHL debut this weekend.
The Devils, on the other hand, are on a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) and have won just twice in their last 19 games (against rivalry teams, no surprises there). They did play in Brooklyn last night, and lost 2-1. Henrique scored the lone Devils goal, a power play tally, and his 20th of the season. Kinkaid looked really good, stopping 36 of 38 shots against (.947 save %).
It should be another good game between these two teams; puck drops at 7PM.