Devils Gameday Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

The New Jersey Devils have one regulation win in their last five games. They will be looking for a bounce-back performance when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Prudential Center. Fans may see defenseman Ty Smith return to the lineup, as he practiced alongside Damon Severson yesterday at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House.

Last time these two teams met was on May 10, 2021 — the last game of the Devils’ 2020-21 season. The Flyers won the game by a score of 4-2 after scoring four unanswered goals. Flyers forward Joel Farabee was the hero, scoring two goals, while Pavel Zacha and Janne Kuokkanen were the goal scorers for New Jersey. Here’s a look at some storylines for the Flyers and Devils.

2 Storylines: Philadelphia Flyers (8-7-4)

The Flyers are Winless in Their Last Five

The Devils are not the only team hungry for a win — throughout the month of November the Flyers have won four out of 12 games. Their latest loss was handed to them by the Carolina Hurricanes who beat the Flyers by a score of 6-3. Philadelphia was unable to score on the power play, and only registered five shots on goal in the third period being down by five goals.

“It is a challenging time, but everyone has to be better, and that starts with me,” said head coach Alain Vigneault after the team’s latest loss. “I mean, I have to do a better job of making sure guys perform to their level. When you look at our group right now, there are a few guys in my estimation that can give us more and give us better, and that’s what we gotta do. We need to stick together as a group. Everyone starting with me needs to find a way to be better, and that’s what we are going to try to do tomorrow.”

The Flyers Continue to Battle Injuries

Injuries have plagued the Flyers so far this season. Their star offseason acquisition, Ryan Ellis, has only appeared in four games due to a lower-body injury. As far as forwards go, Philadelphia is without Patrick Brown, Kevin Hayes, Derick Brassard and Nate Thompson. They Flyers are missing four centers and the team needs to find a quick solution, before the injuries become too much to overcome.

Related: Flyers Lack Options to Replace Ryan Ellis Long-Term

“In the long run, I think it does hurt us,” Sean Couturier said of Ellis and Hayes’ injuries, specifically. “But at the same time, I don’t think even if they were there, the way we’re playing, the way we’re finding ways to lose games, I don’t think it would make a difference.” (from ‘Flyers’ injuries ‘snowballing’ after Nate Thompson becomes the fourth center to go down’, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/27/21)

2 Storylines: New Jersey Devils (8-6-4)

It Will be the Devils’ Annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night

The Devils will host Lucas Files tonight for their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night. The 12-year-old was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in October of 2015. He is a cancer survivor who received treatment at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood will wear a goalie mask that was designed by Files during warmups against the Flyers. On behalf of the Devils, Blackwood invited the family from Manahawkin, New Jersey, to the game and will gift the aforementioned designed helmet and warmup stick to the young fan. Fans will get a chance to see Files as he will partake in the ceremonial puck drop prior to the game. The Devils will also honor Christian Koncewicz during the game. He is a 9-year-old from Middletown, New Jersey, who is presently undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Refocusing on Special Teams

During yesterday’s practice, head coach Lindy Ruff refocused on special teams. As fans have seen, the Devils’ power play has been flat. They have been not scored a goal on the power play since Nov. 14. Last game, forward Jimmy Vesey saw 1:13 of ice time on the man advantage, the most among forwards, along with Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha. The Flyers’ penalty kill is 12th best in the league, and will be difficult for the Devils to score on if given the opportunity.

Jimmy Vesey New Jersey Devils
Jimmy Vesey, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The penalty kill has been a little bit better than the power play, and a reinforcement has arrived. With the return of Nathan Bastian, New Jersey has another option up front. The Devils’ coaching staff worked with Bastian yesterday to get him caught up with the penalty kill and reintroducing him to the Devils’ system.

Players to Watch

New Jersey Devils: Yegor Sharangovich

Yegor Sharangovich seems to have found his game. He has four points in his last five games after a disappointing start of the season that led to him becoming a healthy scratch. Fans know what the 6-foot-2 forward can do, and hopefully, he is on track to repeat what he did his rookie season.

Philadelphia Flyers: Claude Giroux

Whenever the Devils play the Flyers, Claude Giroux is the player to watch. The Flyers’ captain leads the team with 17 points in 19 games. His faceoff percentage is currently 62.26, and it will be interesting to see which Devil will match up against him at the faceoff dots. He is a constant threat and the Devils’ defense will need to be aware of when the puck is on his stick.

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