Surging Devils visit Flyers for Saturday matinee
DEVILS (28-19-3) at FLYERS (30-14-6)
MSG PLUS RADIO:
WFAN 660 AM
Last 10: New Jersey 6-3-1; Philadelphia 6-2-2
This is the fourth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals this season. The road team has won the prior three games.
The last time these bitter rivals met, the teams combined for 76 penalty minutes, including four misconducts. And with the rigors of the stretch run coming, the intensity should be even higher.
The Devils arrive in Philadelphia a banged-up group, as defenseman Adam Larsson
(back) and centers Ryan Carter
(hand) and Adam Henrique
(groin) already have been ruled out of Saturday's game. They join a laundry list of key performers out with injuries.
Despite the players they're missing, the Devils have won two straight and are trying to hold onto a playoff spot. And the players that are still healthy don't expect that to change.
"With the injuries, we’re still expecting to be in the playoffs," team captain Zach Parise
told The (Bergen) Record. "I don't think any of us will be patting each other on the back if we make the playoffs (just) because of all the injuries. At least, we shouldn't. We should expect to get there. We shouldn't be surprised."
When the Flyers played the Nashville Predators on Jan. 14, Philadelphia forward Zac Rinaldo injured his neck trying to put a hit on the Predators' Jordin Tootoo. The attempt left Rinaldo with a herniated disc in his neck, and he missed six of the next seven games.
Finally healthy, he returned Thursday -- against the Predators -- and this time got another shot at Tootoo, leveling him with a solid hit.
"I didn't know I hit him until I connected with him and I was like, 'Oh, that's Tootoo,'" Rinaldo told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I thought it was a pretty clean hit, so that's cool."
Rinaldo had three hits in the game, and even Nashville coach Barry Trotz gave credit for his effort in the 4-1 Flyers win.
"I thought the line of Rinaldo, (Brayden) Schenn and (Wayne) Simmonds were probably their most effective line," Trotz said. "Against us tonight, they seemed to be getting the majority of the chances."
Simmonds had a career-high 10 shots Thursday against the Predators, and his third career two-goal game. … Devils forward Patrik Elias
has 5 goals and 9 assists in his last 11 games.
Besides Larsson, Carter and Henrique, the Devils are missing defenseman Henrik Tallinder
(blood clot in left leg) and center Travis Zajac
(Achilles). … The Flyers are missing center Danny Briere (concussion) and forward James van Riemsdyk (concussion)
In 73 career regular-season games against the Flyers, Elias has 32 goals and 39 assists.
Briere has missed the last four games, but told reporters Friday that he's feeling better and sees a return in the very near future.
Briere took the morning skate Thursday against Nashville and skated again Friday. He said it's unlikely he plays either Saturday against the Devils or Sunday at the Rangers, but is aiming for Tuesday's home game against the Islanders.
Briere said he is "confident I'm not very far away. It's not like I'm worried about my career or the season or anything like that. I really think I'm that close."