Flyers look to end woes, pay visit to Devils
FLYERS (14-14-1) at DEVILS (21-8-1)
Last 10 --
Philadelphia 2-8-0; New Jersey 7-3-0
Season series --
The Flyers have won both meetings between the clubs this season -- 5-2 in New Jersey on Oct. 3 and 3-2 in Philadelphia on Nov. 16. John Stevens was behind the bench for both of those meetings. Now Peter Laviolette is the Flyers' coach. Philadelphia is 4-1-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season.
Big Story --
Ray Emery, who was the goalie of record in the Flyers' two previous wins against the Devils this season, will be sidelined six weeks recovering from successful abdominal surgery on Wednesday. The Flyers will turn to veteran backup Brian Boucher
and Swedish rookie Johan Backlund to carry much of the workload in his absence. … Meanwhile, goaltending has been the least of the Devils' worries with Martin Brodeur on the brink of setting the League record for career shutouts – with 103 he is currently tied with Terry Sawchuk.
Laviolette, 1-3 since taking over as coach, has been reminding his players about the ultimate goal in Philadelphia, which is winning the Stanley Cup. It's something he achieved as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
"He talks about the Stanley Cup a lot," Flyers wing Scott Hartnell
said. "And how amazing it would be to win a Stanley Cup. It's hard to get instilled in my mind, personally, and I'm sure around this dressing room. It's been great talk. It's all mental. If you don't believe you can do, you can't do it. We have to start believing in that right away. It's still early in the season. We've put ourselves in a little bit of a hole but if I'm a betting man, we'll be there at the end."
Brodeur should get another crack at the career record for shutouts. The 16-year veteran has started the last nine games, including a 4-2 loss to Florida on Friday, and, combined with a relief stint in Dallas on Nov. 21, has played in the last 16 games. In addition to Brodeur, however, the Devils, who are off to their best start in franchise history, wouldn't be in this position if not for the significant contributions of rookie forwards Niclas Bergfors, Ilkka Pikkarainen, Matt Halischuk and Vladimir Zharkov and rookie defensemen Mark Fraser and Matthew Corrente. Halischuk was re-assigned to Lowell last Saturday.
Who's Hot --
Since his return to the lineup from a groin injury on Nov. 12, Flyers right wing Danny Briere
has posted at least a point in seven of his last 11 games (8 goals, 12 points).
Injury Report --
In addition to Emery, the Flyers will be without forwards Simon Gagne (hernia surgery), Blair Betts
(dislocated right shoulder) and Darroll Powe
(hand/wrist). Gagne, out since Nov. 3, actually practiced with contact on Wednesday and admitted there's a chance he might return to the lineup the weekend of Dec. 19. The Devils are without defenseman Paul Martin (broken arm), center Dainius Zubrus (broken kneecap) and right wing David Clarkson (broken bone above the ankle).
Stat Pack --
Flyers center Mike Richards
scored the team's second shorthanded goal this season in a 6-2 victory over the Islanders on Tuesday. It was the 20th shorthanded goal of his career, tying him with Brian Propp for sixth in Flyers history.
Puck Drop --
When the Flyers were shut out by the Senators on Thursday, it marked their ninth loss in their last 11 games and the third time they have been shut out in their last six. It marked the second time since 1968 that the Flyers were shut out three times in six or fewer games.
Said Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger
: "It's disappointing. It (stinks). We don't like to lose. It's getting pretty old."