Devils, Flyers start home-and-home in Philadelphia
Monday, 02.08.2010 / 7:00 PM
NHL.comDEVILS (36-19-2) at FLYERS (28-25-3)
New Jersey 4-5-1; Philadelphia 5-5-0
This is the fourth of six meetings between the teams this season. The Flyers won the first two, 5-2 in New Jersey on Oct. 3 behind a goal and an assist by Matt Carle, and 3-2 on Nov. 16 in Philadelphia, with New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk scoring the winning goal. The Devils won the most recent meeting, a 4-1 victory at Prudential Center, as Patrik Elias
scored twice and goalie Martin Brodeur
stopped 22 of 23 shots.
In case you hadn't heard, the Devils just brought in a key player from Atlanta, and we're not talking about Anssi Salmela
. Does Ilya Kovalchuk make New Jersey the best team in the Eastern Conference?
While the Devils found their scoring help in Kovalchuk, the Flyers are looking for anyone to put the puck in the net, as they have just one goal in their last two games.
We all know Kovalchuk can score, but he showed some real toughness in going after Sean Avery in the third period Saturday against the Rangers. Kovalchuk and Avery certainly have some history, going back to the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Saturday, both players were given double-minors for roughing, ending their nights with 3:16 left in the game.
Kovalchuk's new teammates were impressed with how he was more than capable of handling himself physically.
"I think especially in the time of the game, for him to be on the ice, he (Avery) was there for one reason -- to get Kovy off his game," Brodeur said. "It worked, but he (Avery) paid a pretty good price. I was right there watching."
Some of the Flyers' most important offensive pieces have been missing in action the last few weeks. Danny Briere has just 1 goal in his last nine games; Scott Hartnell has 1 goal in his last 10 and Simon Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer, is stuck in an 11-game goal drought.
All the blame can't be dropped on those three, however. The Flyers have 72 shots in their last two games and have just one goal to show for it against Edmonton and Minnesota.
Could newcomer Ville Leino be a solution? When coach Peter Laviolette was asked about shaking up his lineup, he said, "I'm not there yet."
Who's Hot --
Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo is starting to earn a reputation for something other than taking bad penalties. The fourth-line forward has 4 goals in his last nine games, and outside of one fight-filled game with the Rangers, has just six penalty minutes. … Devils center Dainius Zubrus
has goals in two straight games, and 3 goals and 6 points in his last five.
Injury Report --
With Elias back in the lineup Saturday night, only Paul Martin
(arm) and David Clarkson
(leg) are missing from the lineup. … Flyers goalie Ray Emery is questionable for Monday's game due to stiffness in his left hip, which has kept him out of the last two games.
Stat Pack --
Kovalchuk is looking for his first goal as a Devil, and there's a good chance he could get it Monday. He scored the last time he was in Philadelphia, on Jan. 28 with the Thrashers, and he has 18 goals in 30 career games against the Flyers.
Puck Drop --
Coming off what became a disastrous road trip, the Flyers now have a crucial home-and-home set with the Devils. Philadelphia went on a 7-2-0 run to jump up to sixth in the Eastern Conference, but they've won just twice in their last six, their offense has disappeared and they've dropped to eighth in the conference. While the Devils can start planning for the postseason, the Flyers will be in tough just to extend their season past the first week of April.