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Continuing success vs. Flyers vital to Devils' season

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 2:48 PM ET / News
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Continuing success vs. Flyers vital to Devils\' season
NEWARK, N.J. -- The winning feeling may have returned to the New Jersey Devils' dressing room at the perfect time.

The Philadelphia Flyers have become easy prey for the Devils of late and they are on the schedule for two games over the next three nights starting with the NBC Sports Network Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

New Jersey has won six in a row and eight of its past 10 games against Philadelphia, including both games this season and four straight in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season.

"It just seems when we play Philly we get everyone on board," Devils captain Bryce Salvador told NHL.com. "Everyone is buying in. Everyone is coming to compete. Everyone knows it's going to be a battle, so everyone is ready. I don't know what it is, but certain opponents really get our team all driving together and Philly is one of them."

Whether that's OK is not the point; the fact is the Devils need, as Salvador said, everyone to be driving together in these two games against the Flyers. They also play in Philadelphia on Friday.

As of Wednesday morning, four points is what separates the seventh-place Devils from the 11th-place Flyers. Nobody in the Devils' dressing room wants to talk about what has already happened against the Flyers; just about what needs to happen now.

"I throw that stuff out," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of his team's past success against the Flyers. "That, for me, plays no role other than motivating the other team."

The Flyers have enough reason to be motivated, being that they're on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Devils, who are still in the top eight in the East, can potentially fall out with back-to-back losses to the Flyers.

"You have to be cautious because what you've done in the past, you can't rely on it to help you in the future," Salvador said. "I honestly look at it that these games are independent of anything that has happened in the past. They're must-win games for both teams."

So much so that Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov told reporters in Voorhees, N.J., that if the Flyers were to lose both games they'd be "done." Devils forward David Clarkson told NHL.com these two games may be the two most important of the season for both teams.

"It's hard to believe that there are a little over 20 games left, it shows how desperate the games are," Salvador said. "It's nice that we've had some success against them recently, but it won't matter if we don't win these two games."

The Devils feel better about entering a potentially season-changing two-game stretch coming off of a shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday -- two points they feel they deserved for the way they played despite the fact the game was their second in as many nights and seventh in the past 11 days.

"We played a lot of games before that and we didn't have much energy left, but we found a way to win," forward Ilya Kovalchuk told NHL.com. "That's what the good teams do: When they're struggling they never give up and they find a way to go through it."

After a day off Monday, Kovalchuk said he could tell the win had a positive effect on the team by the way it practiced Tuesday.

"Great atmosphere," he said. "The guys practiced with a lot of energy and a lot of smiles. That's what you need to win; you need a good atmosphere in the room to be successful."

They've had that in recent games against the Flyers and it's been working. The question is will the great atmosphere still be there Thursday?

"Obviously Philly is playing for their life here," DeBoer said, "and we should have the same mindset. We're into the stretch run."

Follow Dan Rosen @drosennhl

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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