The New Jersey Devils are looking to get back in the win column for the first time since they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 10 days ago, as the Flyers return to the Prudential Center desperate to snap their own losing streak. The teams last met on Nov. 28, 2021, when Dougie Hamilton, Andreas Johnsson, Jesper Bratt, and Nathan Bastian all scored in the victory. Here’s a look at the storylines ahead of tonight’s game.
2 Storylines: Philadelphia Flyers (8-11-4)
Philadelphia Announces Mike Yeo as Interim Head Coach
On Monday, the Flyers fired Alain Vigneault and replaced him with assistant Mike Yeo, who was previously the head coach of the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues, before becoming an assistant for the Flyers in May 2019. Philadelphia’s wheels have come off this season, and it’s only gotten worse. In Vigneault’s final eight games, his team was outscored 36-13 and were 2-for-22 (9.1 percent) on the power play.
“Mike is, first of all, a great guy,” captain Claude Giroux said. “He’s a guy you want to play for. Anytime we have meetings with him, or he talks to us, you can see the players really listen. You want to be involved with a guy like Mike Yeo.”
A few hours after the coaching change, Yeo was behind the bench as the team faced the Colorado Avalanche. They lost 7-5 at Wells Fargo Center, but it was the first time since Oct. 27 that the Flyers scored more than three goals in a game; Philadelphia has given up seven goals to their last two opponents.
Flyers Are Winless in Their Last Nine Games
Philadelphia is on the worst losing streak in the league with a 0-7-2 record in their last nine games. They will be desperate to earn a point against a rival who’s also struggling. The Flyers are also battling through injuries as Derick Brassard, Nate Thompson, and Ryan Ellis remain sidelined, but the organization is not using injuries as an excuse for their current situation.
“Right now, we have to forge a new identity, we have to learn to play the game the right way and we have to get guys to buy in,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “It’s a tough day, but hopefully this is a new beginning as well.”
2 Storylines: New Jersey Devils (9-9-5)
The Devils’ Third Jersey Makes Its Debut
The Devils debut their first-ever third jersey tonight. it is the first of 13 games that the team will wear a primary black jersey that was inspired by Martin Brodeur. The design was not well received at first but has since won some fans over. The debut of the Nashville Predators’ stadium jersey helped some appreciate the simplicity of the Devils’ newest uniform.
“The organization has been playing with the same jersey for almost 40 years, and to be a part of bringing a third jersey for our fans to enjoy is going to leave a great mark,” said Brodeur. “The new sweater is inspired by a history of hockey in the Garden State that fans may not be familiar with and layered with design elements of Devils’ championship success. This is a jersey our alumni are envious of that they wished they could have played in it back in their day. People throughout the state and country know us as ‘Jersey,’ this is our place, our home and this jersey signifies that.”
New Jersey Needs to Simplify Their Game
The coaching staff is looking for their team to simplify their game and build off the positives from their game against the Ottawa Senators. Recently head coach Lindy Ruff has mentioned mental mistakes and self-inflicted plays that ended with the puck in their net, and he has focused on meeting with individual players and lines.
“Sometimes what they see and what we see doesn’t really line up, so it usually turns out to be a good conversation,” Ruff said after yesterday’s practice. “We show them probably eight to 10 clips of, you know, what they did well, where we can improve, what sometimes they were thinking on some of the reads that were inside the game, and where we could probably support each other better. And in a lot of our defensive zone play and then up ice, creating offense talking about, you know, what do you see here, what you read here?”
Players to Watch
New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha
I’ve lost count of how many posts Pavel Zacha has hit over the past couple of games. He’s had opportunities but has been unable to cash in. He last scored against the Minnesota Wild, and since then, he has one assist. Ruff has told media before that Zacha has one of the best shots he’s seen, and it is only a matter of time until he finds the back of the net.
Philadelphia Flyers: Claude Giroux
When a team is in shambles, everyone looks to the captain. Giroux has a team-leading 21 points in 23 games, and his nine goals and 12 assists are also a team-best. He is leading by example on the ice, and he has figured in 45.45 percent of the last 33 goals the Flyers have scored. The captain will be all over the ice looking to lead his team to their first win in weeks.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and is a credentialed correspondent covering the New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.