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Devils host desperate Flyers in home opener

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM
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Devils host desperate Flyers in home opener
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers (0-2-0)
New Jersey Devils (1-0-0--2pts)

The Flyers will face off against their division rival for the first time since they were eliminated by them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 8 of last year… The Devils won the series 4 games to 1 by winning four straight games after falling into a 0-1 deficit… The Flyers went 3-2-1 in the regular season series last year, winning twice at New Jersey… The Flyers also outscored the Devils last season 18 to 14, including 12 to 4 in the third period… All-time, the Flyers own a 104-84-18-10 mark against New Jersey and are a combined 39-55-8-5 on the road at the Meadowlands and here in Newark.

Tonight is the home opener for the Devils, who are 16-8-5 all-time in that category… The Flyers have played spoilers to home openers recently by winning the previous four years they have played in the opposing team's home opener with three of the four victories coming by one goal (2011-12: 2-1 @ Boston; 2010-11: 3-2 @ Pittsburgh; 2009-10: 2-0 @ Carolina; 2007-08: 3-2 @ Calgary)... The only exception was Sunday's loss at Buffalo.

The Devils won their final six games of the regular season last year, and with their opening night win over the Islanders, are 7-0-0 in their last seven regular season games… Tonight's game could match-up a pair of 18-year-olds drafted in 2012 - Scott Laughton for the Flyers, drafted 20th overall & Stefan Matteau for the Devils, drafted 29th overall… Wayne Simmonds had three goals and five points in six games last season against the Devils - he also ranks second among Flyers forwards in average ice-time so far this year (19:51), including average power-play time (5:23)… The Flyers are trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since the last 48-game season – 1994-95, when they also lost their first three games before picking up their first win… Flyers' Eric Wellwood & Devils' Adam Henrique played together for four seasons with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL (2006-10) where they won two Memorial Cups… The Flyers recalled LW Tye McGinn yesterday and he is available to make his NHL debut tonight - he would be the second Flyer this season to make his NHL debut (Scott Laughton) and seventh Flyer in the last two seasons.

4. Player to watch FLYERS: Ilya Bryzgalov
Should Bryzgalov get the start in net, he carries over a pretty good mark from last season… He went a perfect 3-0-0 with an impressive 0.29 GAA and .987 save percentage which included two shutouts… Overall, Bryzgalov is 4-1-0 with a 1.28 GAA having allowed seven goals in six appearances against New Jersey.

5. Player to watch DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk has been the best player for the Devils against the Flyers… He averaged over a point-per-game last season, recording eight points (2g-6a) in six games, while averaging nearly a PPG against the Flyers in his career with 22 goals and 43 points in 45 regular season games… Kovalchuck has one assist in the Devils only game so far this year.

"Obviously it's frustrating and it's not where we want to be right now, but it's a weird season. We have to stay in there; you never know what can happen… I think everyone has confidence in our team and we have a good lineup."
- Claude Giroux

Season series: First of four meetings this season. The teams split the season series in 2011-12, with Flyers captain Claude Giroux collecting four goals and seven points and Wayne Simmonds finishing with three goals and five points. For the Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk led the team with eight points, including six assists and Patrik Elias, who scored the winner in a 4-3 shootout decision on Nov. 3, produced five points (one goal, four assists).

Big story: The Flyers have opened the season with two straight losses for the first time since 2008-09, so expect the club to take a must-win approach at Prudential Center in Newark. After dropping a 3-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins in its home opener on Saturday, the Flyers suffered a 5-2 setback to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Philadelphia is just 1-for-9 on the power-play and has allowed five power-play goals in nine times shorthanded.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Philadelphia opened a 2-1 lead against the Sabres on Sunday with second-period goals from Sean Couturier and Giroux, but Buffalo would strike for four unanswered to earn a three-goal decision. The Sabres scored three power-play goals, including two with Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn in the box. Forward Zac Rinaldo played 2:47 of the first period before limping off the ice with a skate cut following a collision with Buffalo's Robyn Regehr. If Rinaldo is unable to resume fourth-line duty against the Devils, expect 6-foot-5, 228-pound wing Tom Sestito to fill that role.

Devils: New Jersey opened the season with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y., on Saturday. David Clarkson scored 65 seconds after the home team had pulled even to give New Jersey the win. Clarkson, who scored a career-high 30 goals last season, put the Devils ahead for good when his screened shot from the right circle ticked the skate of an Isles defenseman before floating between the legs of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Travis Zajac scored the Devils first goal in the second period.

The victory was the first season-opening triumph for the Devils since 2008, also a 2-1 victory over the Islanders. New Jersey is now 4-0 against the Isles in season-opening contests. Devils rookie Stefan Matteau made his NHL debut on Saturday, notching three shots and delivering one hit in 7:26 of ice time. Matteau skated on a line with Jacob Josefson and Cam Janssen.

Who's hot: Clarkson, who scored the game-winner against the Islanders on Saturday, led the Devils with seven game-winners in 2011-12. … Giroux has two goals to open the season for the Flyers. It marks the second year in a row the Flyers captain has scored in each of the season's first two games -- he scored in each of the team's first three games in 2011-12.

Injury report: The Flyers will be without center Danny Briere (left wrist) for at least two more games. Rinaldo is listed as questionable after being accidentally cut by the skate of Regehr during a first-period collision on Sunday that required 20 stitches above his right knee.

2012-2013 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 18 '13 NJD 3 at PHI 0 R. Carter
Mar 15 '13 NJD 1 at PHI 2 - SO C. Giroux
Mar 13 '13 PHI 2 at NJD 5 I. Kovalchuk
Feb 15 '13 PHI 3 at NJD 5 D. Clarkson
Jan 22 '13 PHI 0 at NJD 3 T. Zajac
C. Giroux3202-1610
S. Couturier3101-2000
B. Schenn3011+1500
K. Timonen3011+0200
S. Hartnell3011+01300
W. Simmonds3011-11100
J. Voracek3011-2200
K. Foster2011+1000
L. Schenn3000+1600
E. Wellwood3000+0000
M. Read3000+0000
S. Laughton3000+0000
R. Fedotenko3000-1200
M. Talbot3000-1400
A. Meszaros3000-1000
N. Grossmann3000-1600
B. Coburn3000-3600
Z. Rinaldo2000+0000
B. Gervais1000+0000
T. McGinn1000+0000
I. Bryzgalov30-3-09923.03.902
I. Kovalchuk2123+3400
T. Zajac2202+2001
D. Clarkson2202+1911
D. Zubrus2011+2000
H. Tallinder2011+2200
P. Elias2011+1200
B. Salvador2011+1600
M. Zidlicky2011+1600
M. Tedenby2011+1200
A. Volchenkov2000+2000
C. Janssen2000+0000
S. Bernier2000+0900
M. Fayne2000+0000
A. Greene2000+0000
S. Gionta2000+0000
R. Carter2000+0000
J. Josefson2000+0000
S. Matteau2000+0200
M. Brodeur22-0-01430.50.977
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