Devils 2022-23 Season Opener Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

Tonight is Game 1 of 82 for the New Jersey Devils. Yesterday, the team practiced at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House before hitting the road and traveling down I-95 to face the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Lindy Ruff’s team had a successful preseason finishing with a record of 5-2-0.

New Jersey Devils Gameday Preview MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier and Dougie Hamilton
MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton (The Hockey Writers)

The Devils are beginning the 2022-23 campaign with three injured players: Nico Hischier (day-to-day), Tyce Thompson who is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, and of course goaltender Jonathan Bernier who is on long-term injured reserve. Earlier this week New Jersey’s captain explained that he will be a game-time decision if he plays in the team’s season opener. It’s worth noting that even though he took part in the team’s morning skate, Hischier will not be playing tonight.

Setting the Stage

New Jersey’s Morning Skate Lineup:

Yegor Sharangovich – Hischier – Jesper Bratt

Ondrej Palat – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer

Tomas Tatar – Erik Haula – Alexander Holtz

Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Nathan Bastian

Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton

Brendan Smith – Damon Severson

Ryan Graves – John Marino

Mackenzie Blackwood

Philadelphia’s Morning Skate Lineup:

Scott Laughton – Kevin Hayes – Travis Konecny

Joel Farabee – Noah Cates – Owen Tippett

James van Riemsdyk – Morgan Frost – Wade Allison

Nicolas Deslauriers – Tanner Laczynski – Hayden Hodgson

Ivan Provorov – Tony DeAngelo

Travis Sanheim – Justin Braun

Nick Seeler – Egor Zamula

Carter Hart

How to Watch and Listen

Tonight’s 7:00 P.M. broadcast can be viewed on ESPN+/Hulu. The MSG Networks crew will be off as their regular season debut will be Saturday when the Devils host the Detroit Red Wings at Prudential Center. As always, fans can listen to tonight’s contest on the Devils Hockey Network.

2 Storylines: Philadelphia Flyers (0-0-0)

Injuries Out the Gate

The Flyers announced that Sean Couturier would begin the season on Injured Reserve. The 29-year-old suffered another injury to his back but has been skating on his own since late last week. The Hockey Writers’ very own Flyers credentialed correspondent, Colin Newby, shared that the team does not have a timetable for Couturier’s return.

Defenseman Ryan Ellis is on Long Term Injured Reserve, and there is an expectation that he will not suit up this season.

“Ryan Ellis is out indefinitely — no timetable for his return to play,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said at training camp. “I’ll just say that my assumption is that he won’t play this season. If he does, it’ll be a bonus. That’s how we’ve prepared for this season.”

Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers
Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Cam Atkinson is currently listed as day-to-day and as Olivia Reiner shared, Flyers head coach John Tortorella said Atkinson will not suit up tonight against the Devils. Forwards Bobby Brink and Patrick Brown and goaltender Felix Sandstrom are on the team’s Injured Non-Roster list.

The John Tortorella Era Is Set to Begin

On June 17, 2022, Tortorella was introduced as the head coach of the Flyers. This marks the first time the controversial coach will be behind the bench since the 2020-21 season. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in Philadelphia as they finished last season with a record of 25-46-11. Tortorella knows that turning things around will take time, and this could be one of the biggest challenges of his career.

Related: Flyers Final Roster Reactions and Preseason Recap

“This is a good one. This is a hard project,” he said. “I love being in it, I’ve loved it so far. Had some really good days where I’m really happy about things. Had some bad days where I’m like, ‘What the hell are we doing?’ That happens everywhere.”

2 Storylines: New Jersey Devils (0-0-0)

Will the New Acquisitions Make an Immediate Impact?

There is an expectation surrounding the Devils this season thanks to the acquisitions that general manager Tom Fitzgerald made this summer. Not only has he improved the team on the ice, but he also brought in players who can provide the intangibles in the locker room. There is now a balance of proven veterans, budding stars, and young talent who are out to prove their worth. Smith, Palat, and Haula have played a combined 1,733 regular season games, and bring a ton of experience to a team that was very inexperienced last season.

To Making It Count

When I spoke with Smith during training camp, he emphasized how important it is to get off to a quick start in this division.

Brendan Smith New Jersey Devils
Brendan Smith, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“It’s such a hard division to make up late, so you have to get it right off the bat. It’s something that I feel that maybe with a younger team, they don’t realize how important those first couple of months of points are,” he said. “Then you try to make it up at the end of the year, and you can be playing really good hockey, but you just don’t find a way to make the gap because everybody’s trying to make that playoff push. So it’s those early points that are massive, and that’s one of the focal points I’ll be trying to emphasize as a vocal leader.”

Related: Devils’ 2022-23 Roster by the Numbers

New Jersey has an all-time record of 120-114-18-8 against the Flyers and historically plays well against their division rivals. While the Flyers will be motivated to prove the naysayers wrong, they don’t have the firepower thanks to their long list of injuries. Tonight is the opportune moment to get the season started on the right foot because as Smith said, it all starts with day one.

Players to Watch

New Jersey Devils: Alexander Holtz

The 20-year-old came to training camp on a mission to make the opening night roster, and mission accomplished as he will be in tonight’s lineup. Throughout preseason fans saw him playing alongside Palat and Hughes, but during yesterday’s practice, he played with veterans Tatar and Haula. After the roster announcement was made, Holtz told the media the hard work is just starting because now it’s about proving he can make an impact.

Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart

Earlier Amanda Stein reported that the Devils will face 24-year-old Carter Hart in net. It’s been a difficult few seasons for the Alberta native who had missed time in every season of his NHL career due to injuries. Tonight marks his first start since April 12th when he played one period of the team’s 9-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. He suffered a lower-body injury a few days into training camp and was unable to make any preseason appearances for his club.

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