The New Jersey Devils find themselves in a rare position this season: they’re stuck in a three-game losing streak but will try to change that against the Philadelphia Flyers at Prudential Center at 7:00 on Thursday. The two teams have already met twice this season, splitting two games at the Wells Fargo Center. The Devils are 21–6-2, still in first in the Metropolitan Division with 44 points, while the Flyers, who started hot, have cooled off recently. Their record is 9-13-7 for 25 points and seventh in the Metropolitan and second last in the Eastern Conference.
New Jersey played hard against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday but came up short in a 4-1 loss. The score was not reflective of the overall game, however, as two late empty-net goals contributed to the final score. The Devils relied heavily on their top three lines, as the trio of Andreas Johnsson, Michael McLeod, and Jesper Boqvist spent considerably less time on the ice than the other forwards. The third line was the one that scored, as Miles Wood deflected a Kevin Bahl shot and was able to beat Scott Wedgewood. Unfortunately, that was the only shot on goal that got past the former Devil, who made 35 saves on the night. Even in the loss, Akira Schmid was once again strong in net, saving 28 of 30 Dallas shots.
“Schmid played very well for us,” forward Tomas Tatar said. “He made some key saves.”
Related: Devils’ Loss to Stars Is a Wake-up Call
Latest News & Highlights
Thursday’s tilt against the Flyers will be their third game in four days. “This is going to be a tough stretch. There’s a lot of games in a short period of time,” Tatar noted. The team will next take on the reigning Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers at home on Friday.
Tonight is also Jewish Community Night at The Rock. A pre-game ceremony will be held, and there will be performances from Jewish youth groups on the concourse throughout the game.
Devils Projected Lines:
Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Fabian Zetterlund
Yegor Sharangovich – Jack Hughes – Jesper Bratt
Miles Wood – Erik Haula – Dawson Mercer
Jesper Boqvist – Michael McLeod – Alexander Holtz
Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves – John Marino
Brendan Smith – Damon Severson
Flyers Projected Lines:
Kevin Hayes – Noah Cates – Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk – Morgan Frost – Owen Tippett
Scott Laughton – Lucas Sedlak – Joel Farabee
Nicolas Deslauriers – Patrick Brown – Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Travis Sanheim – Cam York
Nick Seeler – Justin Braun
What’s Happening in Philadelphia
Much like the Devils, the Flyers are on a skid, dropping four straight games. Their latest defeat came on Dec. 13 at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. While the Flyers held a 1-0 lead, they allowed two Avalanche goals in the second period and fell 3-2. Head coach John Tortorella said that his team “iced the puck a lot” and “turned the puck over.” He also thought that the Flyers “played a good third,” but it was not enough to secure their first road victory since Nov. 5.
Philadelphia started Felix Sandstrom against Colorado, so it is likely that the Devils will see Carter Hart tonight. The 24-year-old from Alberta has an 8-8-6 record with a .909 save percentage and a 2.84 goals-against average this season. In the two games against the Devils, Hart has saved 50 out of 55 shots. Including their matchup against New Jersey, four of the Flyers’ next five games are against Metropolitan teams, as they will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and Carolina Hurricanes within the next eight days.
Keep an Eye On:
New Jersey Devils: Jonas Siegenthaler
There’s an argument to be made that Jonas Siegenthaler is the Devils’ best defenseman this season. While he might not put up eye-catching numbers, he has four points in his past five games, all assists. He’s also increased his shooting percentage significantly, from 1.1% last year to 2.9% this season. He’s done a great job controlling the defensive zone when he’s on the ice, regularly playing over 20 minutes a night. Siegenthaler’s on-ice goals percentage is 54.9, a significant jump from his 41.5 last season. Furthermore, his on-ice goal differential jumped from minus-25 last year to a plus-8 this season. He’s created three rebounds this season, and his share of expected goals from rebound shots is an astonishing 25.5%.
Simply put, the Devils have been much better when Siegenthaler is skating, and the duo of him and Hamilton has been one of the NHL’s best pairings this season.
Philadelphia Flyers: Travis Konecny
Travis Konecny has become the leader for the Flyers, and this season he has upped his game. In 24 games for the Orange and Black, he’s averaging just over a point-per-game pace, with 25 points – 11 of those are goals, which leads all Flyers skaters. The former first-round pick has a 14.3 shooting percentage, which is easily the highest of his career. His nine power-play points are among the best he’s ever produced as well. Tortorella has shown confidence in Konecny, averaging over 20 minutes of ice time a night, the most among Flyers forwards. Of his 11 goals, three have come against the Devils, so if they want to avoid a repeat performance, they will have to try to defend Konecny the best they can.
Where to Watch:
MSGSN will carry the game between the Flyers and Devils from Newark, with Bill Spaulding and Ken Daneyko once again on the call for this long-time rivalry. Chico Resch and Chris Wescott, filling in for Matt Loughlin, will be on the call for the Devils Hockey Network once again.