Philadelphia Flyers (19-21-3--41pts)
New Jersey Devils (15-17-10--40pts)
TV: CSN - RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
1. FIVE TO GO
The Flyers face the final five games of the regular season, and sit five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot… They are looking for their third straight victory after posting wins in their back-to-back set on Monday & Tuesday where they combined for 11 goals, outscoring their opponent, 11-5… The Flyers have three of their remaining five games at home and are 4-1-0 in their last five on home ice, and own an overall record of 13-6-2 at the Wells Fargo Center this season.
2. SERIES & MORE
This is the fifth and final meeting of the season series, and just the second at home for the Flyers this season… The Flyers only victory in the previous four games came in their game at home, a 2-1 shootout win on Mar. 15, which was also the last meeting between the two teams… The Devils enter tonight's game on a 10-game winless skid with their last victory coming on Mar. 23 vs. Florida… During the streak, the Devils have been shut out in their last two games… The Flyers have scored five of their six goals in the season series in the first period.
3. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER
The Devils have scored just 22 goals in the first period this season, compared to the Flyers who have tallied 46 goals in the opening frame… Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk was placed on injured reserve Mar. 24 and is out 2-4 weeks, but resumed skating with the team on Apr. 9… Danny Briere has points in two of his three games since returning from a concussion, including the last two games (2a)… The Flyers have had 12 players appear in a game with both their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, and the big club this season… The Flyers have allowed just one goal on the power play in the month of April, going 25-for-26 over an eight-game span.
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Claude Giroux - (C) #28
The Flyers captain is leading down the stretch, posting multi-point games in each of the last two for the Flyers with a goal and four assists… He also has posted at least a point in seven of his last nine games for a total of 12 points (3g-9a) in that span… In his career against the Devils he averages nearly a point-per-game with 22 points (6g-16a) in 23 contests, including this season where he has recorded three points, all assists, in four games.
5. Player to watch DEVILS: Martin Brodeur - (G) #30
Should he get the call in net, it would be Broduer's 13th consecutive start… He is 2-0-0 against the Flyers this season, posting a shutout, 1.50 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in 2013… All-time, Brodeur will play his 88th game against the Flyers - he owns an 47-30-9 mark with a 2.45 GAA and .905 save percentage to go along with 10 shutouts.
"If it's game number 10, 48 or whatever, you still have to go out there and do your job and play for the Philadelphia Flyers. The game [on Monday] we were great, but today [vs. Rangers] there was a lot of passion and good hockey."
Last 10: New Jersey 0-6-4; Philadelphia 6-4-0
Season series: This is the fifth and final meeting between the Atlantic Division rivals this season. The New Jersey Devils won three of the first four games, but the Philadelphia Flyers won the most recent game, a 2-1 shootout victory at Wells Fargo Center on March 15.
Big story: Can the Devils pull out of a tailspin that has seen them go winless in 10 games? Or can the Flyers, with their beat-up defense, continue to make a run for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot?
Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk told reporters after practice Tuesday that he would travel with the team to Philadelphia and decide after the morning skate Thursday if he would play that night against the Flyers. Moments later, though, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer squashed those hopes.
For the first time since sustaining an injury to his right shoulder during a March 23 game, Kovalchuk skated Tuesday at his regular right wing spot on a line at practice, alongside center Adam Henrique and left wing Dainius Zubrus. He also played the point with the first power-play unit.
However, DeBoer told reporters after practice that after watching Kovalchuk go through all the drills, he didn't believe the star forward looked ready to return.
"He's not close enough to be a consideration, so we're going to leave him back," DeBoer said.
Flyers: Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette wasn't fond that a reporter called his defense "a patchwork" following the Flyers' 4-2 win Tuesday against the New York Rangers, but with four regulars injured and a lineup featuring three players who spent the majority of the season in the minor leaguers, the description somewhat fit.
The only two regulars Thursday were 36-year-old Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn, who Laviolette described as a "cagey vet" at 23. Kurtis Foster, a healthy scratch in 23 of 43 games this season, played 12:14. Rookie Oliver Lauridsen, in his 10th game, had a game-high six hits in 19:59 of ice time. Second-year defenseman Erik Gustafsson had a goal in 23:15 of ice time. And Brandon Manning, called up Tuesday morning, played 11:56 and assisted on the game's first goal.
"I think they've been excellent," Laviolette said of his defense group. "Oliver has come out and done a nice job, Kurtis jumps back in the lineup and takes some major minutes. Manning comes up and get back in to the swing of things, he looked great. Kimmo, you can't say enough about him. Luke Schenn hauled probably close to 60 minutes in the past two games, so they were real strong."
Who's hot: Flyers forward Jakub Voracek has goals in two straight games. With 19 on the season, he's set a new career high in just 43 games. His previous best was last season, when he had 18 in 78 games.
Injury report: Kovalchuk is out with a shoulder injury for the Devils. Defenseman Bryce Salvador (wrist) is questionable. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov will not play due to suspension. … The Flyers will be missing forwards Maxime Talbot (leg), Zac Rinaldo (high ankle sprain) and Jody Shelley (hip), and defensemen Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) and Nicklas Grossmann (upper body).
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