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game preview

Another Atlantic Division Showdown

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM

Associated Press

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Another Atlantic Division Showdown
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
FLYERS (27-14-4--58pts) at DEVILS (26-18-2--54pts)


1. HIGH REBOUND PERCENTAGE
The Flyers own a 12-4-1 record in their next game that follows a loss in either regulation or overtime… There have been only four times all season that the Flyers have lost two consecutive games in regulation.

2. PK SPECIALISTS
The Devils come into today's game with the NHL's top penalty-killing unit at 90.1 percent, killing off 145 of 161 opponents power plays… They also own the NHL's best PK on home ice, allowing just six goals all season on their opponents power play.

3. FIRST OF'S, USUALLY CLOSE CALLS
Today's game is the first of games on back-to-back days for the Flyers, who own a 6-1-0 record in the first game of contests on back-to-back days… Four of those seven games have been decided by one goal.

4. Player to watch DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk has scored a goal in five of his last seven games, posting seven goals and 10 points in that span… In 41 games against the Flyers, he has 20 goals and 37 points, but also a plus-minus rating of minus-9.

5. Player to watch FLYERS: Matt Read
Matt Read is currently riding a four-game point streak, recording a goal and four assists in that span… He has also recorded points in six of his last eight games for a total of eight points (2G-6A) in that span… Read also scored his first NHL goal against the Devils' Martin Brodeur back on Oct. 8.


GAME PREVIEW


The Philadelphia Flyers are frustrated, but they're trying to remain positive.

Some production from Claude Giroux could go a long way in assuring a lift in morale.

Giroux attempts to end his longest goal drought of the season when the visiting Flyers try to rebound from a disappointing loss Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.

Philadelphia (27-14-4) is in the midst of a 7-7-1 stretch after Thursday's 4-1 loss to the last-place New York Islanders, ending the Flyers' 13-game home winning streak in the series.

"I think sometimes, generally speaking about players or teams, negativity doesn't help solve anything ... and yet we want to carry it," coach Peter Laviolette told the team's official website. "I'm guilty of it myself at times.

"You want to carry it; you want to bring it with you; you're irritated; you're agitated and really it doesn't do any good. You're better off turning the page, taking a step forward and figuring it out."

Giroux, Philadelphia's top scorer with 50 points, may heed his coach's words, as he's gone eight games without a goal since scoring his 18th in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic.

"We can't get too frustrated," Giroux said. "That's one thing we kind of did the last few games. I'm playing frustrated; I'm playing out of position because I want to do too much. I just have to relax. We have to look at it as a positive, even if it's not good."

One of two Flyers named to next week's All-Star game, Giroux is minus-9 with four assists during his goal drought. He hasn't endured a longer one since going 10 straight without a score Dec. 20, 2010-Jan. 13, 2011.

"It happens to everybody," said right wing Jaromir Jagr, who is enduring a season high-tying seven-game goal drought. "I bet you it happens to (Wayne) Gretzky or (Mario) Lemieux, but those players came back and we're going to score."

Perhaps a matchup with New Jersey (26-18-2) can get Giroux going. He has eight goals and 12 assists in 20 career meetings, including six points in the opening round of the 2009-10 playoffs when the Flyers eliminated the Devils in five games.

Giroux has a goal in each of the two meetings this season, with Philadelphia going 1-0-1.

The Devils are looking to re-establish themselves after giving up all of the scoring in the third period to fall 4-1 to Boston on Thursday, ending their three-game winning streak.

"Any time we lose, we're disappointed," coach Peter DeBoer told the team's official website. "I think we expect to win, which is a good sign. We definitely weren't holding any parties or parades in there. At the same time, I think we all know that the focus has to shift now to a real important game against Philly.

"We're going to get a lot of the same as we did against Boston. Our desperation level has to be high. Our attention to detail and systems has to be good for 60 minutes."

Ilya Kovalchuk managed just one shot while being shut out by the Bruins. Still, the star left wing has seven goals and three assists during a 5-2-0 stretch for the Devils.

Kovalchuk had two assists versus the Flyers in a 4-3 shootout loss Nov. 3, but he hasn't scored against them in six meetings.

Martin Brodeur may be back in net after stopping 21 of 24 shots Thursday. He's 3-12-2 with a 3.13 goals-against average in his last 17 starts against the Flyers, including the 2009-10 playoffs.

New Jersey made a trade Friday, acquiring left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky from Carolina in exchange for minor-league defenseman Joe Sova and a draft pick.

Ponikarovsky had seven goals and eight assists in 49 games with the Hurricanes.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 13 '12 NJD 0 at PHI 3 S. Couturier
Mar 11 '12 PHI 1 at NJD 4 A. Volchenkov
Feb 04 '12 NJD 6 at PHI 4 A. Ponikarovsky
Jan 21 '12 PHI 4 at NJD 1 S. Hartnell
Nov 03 '11 NJD 4 at PHI 3 - SO P. Elias
Oct 08 '11 PHI 3 at NJD 0 C. Giroux
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
C. Giroux42183452-12355
S. Hartnell46221941+1769114
J. Jagr40122234+81451
M. Read43151631+14233
D. Briere43131730+14522
K. Timonen4622628+123020
J. Voracek4672027+41802
W. Simmonds46131326+05553
M. Carle4641923+22230
J. van Riemsdyk37111122-12221
M. Talbot46101020+03001
S. Couturier4210818+161003
A. Meszaros4661117+53012
B. Coburn4521012+13800
C. Pronger1311112+11010
H. Zolnierczyk32325-112800
Z. Rinaldo36145-612400
B. Schenn18224-6600
M. Bourdon27213+14001
A. Lilja30033+32000
J. Shelley17011-52200
A. Nodl12011-1200
E. Gustafsson9011+7200
E. Wellwood1011+3000
K. Marshall10000-1800
M. Walker4000-21600
T. Sestito3000-11500
B. Holmstrom2000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
I. Bryzgalov3218-10-3898542.94.896
S. Bobrovsky1810-4-1394792.46.919
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Elias46172845-31463
I. Kovalchuk42192140-101653
Z. Parise47152439-32421
A. Henrique42132134+7703
P. Sykora47121426+33014
D. Zubrus47121224-32441
D. Clarkson4716622-108653
A. Ponikarovsky508816-122640
A. Larsson4521315-61800
M. Fayne47369-71800
K. Foster27279-91000
A. Greene23099+0400
N. Palmieri26437-71200
M. Tedenby43156-151600
A. Volchenkov40066-72000
H. Tallinder39066-111600
B. Salvador47055+93000
R. Carter46224-145800
M. Taormina14044+4200
T. Zajac8123-2200
A. Urbom5101+1900
C. Janssen36011-55500
B. Mills24011-73200
J. Josefson8011+1200
E. Boulton25000-86000
T. Sestito18000-5700
R. Pelley7000+0700
S. Zalewski7000-2000
M. Fraser4000-21400
V. Zharkov4000-2000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Brodeur3014-12-1777222.84.893
J. Hedberg2112-7-1505502.45.909
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