The Philadelphia Flyers’ bye week ends and one of their most important stretches begins tonight at 7 when they take on the New Jersey Devils on the road.
The contest is the first of four against a Metropolitan Division team in the Flyers’ next five games. Philly sits seventh in the Metro, but have games in hand on many of their opponents that can be made up over the next week.
The same is true for the slipping Devils, who have lost five straight games and are coming off a bye, themselves.
WATCH / LISTEN / FACE-OFF:
LISTEN: 97.5 The Fanatic
PUCK DROP: 7 P.M.
LINE COMBINATIONS: Courtesy of Daily Faceoff
Philadelphia: Flyers Line Combinations
The Flyers recalled Tyrell Goulbourne yesterday, after sending him down during the bye week so that he could practice with the Phantoms. He’s only played about 10 minutes total in two games, but they’ve both been Flyers wins. More importantly, though, Shayne Gostisbehere will miss the game because of an illness. Travis Sanheim will play and Robert Hagg moves up to the first pairing with Ivan Provorov. Dale Weise and Taylor Leier are likely to sit again as the odd men out and Brian Elliott checks back into the starter net after Michal Neuvirth got the final game before the bye.
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl – Valtteri Filppula – Jake Voracek
Jordan Weal – Nolan Patrick – Wayne Simmonds
Jori Lehtera – Scott Laughton – Tyrell Goulbourne
Ivan Provorov – Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning – Andrew MacDonald
Travis Sanheim – Radko Gudas
New Jersey: Devils Line Combinations
This will be the Flyers first glance at the Devils this season and they may be a bit surprised. Gone are the days of trap hockey, replaced by the speed of Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Sami Vatanen. That speed and skill helped New Jersey launch to a surprising start atop the Metropolitan Division. As for today’s lineup, defenseman Mirco Mueller is on injured reserve, while Jimmy Hayes, Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini are healthy scratches.
Taylor Hall – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Marcus Johansson – Travis Zajac – Kyle Palmieri
Miles Wood – Pavel Zacha – Drew Stafford
Blake Coleman – Brian Boyle – Brian Gibbons
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
John Moore – Sami Vatanen
Will Butcher – Ben Lovejoy
THREE STORYLINES TO WATCH
The Nico Hischier-Nolan Patrick “rivalry” is going to be beat to death over the years — if it hasn’t already — but it will definitely be something to watch in the first matchup. Patrick got off to a slow start, but has improved recently. Meanwhile, Hischier has had a very solid season, scoring 26 points in 41 games. Patrick was the long-assumed first-overall pick for almost a year heading into the 2017 NHL Draft, but Hischier ended up going first. Now would be a great chance for Patrick to start proving the selection wrong.
The Flyers’ bye couldn’t have come at a much worse time. The team strung together three wins before the break, including wins over the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. The Devils had lost five straight before theirs and are probably treating the bye as a reset button. It will be interesting to see if Philly can continue their momentum and if New Jersey really can forget the five previous games early in this contest.
The Flyers have oftentimes struggled with speedy teams this season and the Devils fall under that category, especially with depth players like Miles Wood, Brian Gibbons and Will Butcher. To make matters worse, most of the Metropolitan teams would not be considered slow or heavy. This will be a good game to see how Philadelphia can match up against fast teams with more Metro foes coming.