The final week before the Olympic break and it certainly is a doozy with 4 games in 6 days including two against the Flyers.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (36-19-2) at the Philadelphia Flyers (28-25-3). This is the 4th of 6 meetings this season and the first of two meetings this week.
The Last Devils Game: Thought they played a pretty good game, got a lot of shots on net but Henrik Lundqvist (and his huge pads) came up big for the Rangers as they went on to a 3-1 win over the Devils. If you go back and watch the highlights, Lundqvist robbed NJ at least half a dozen times.
The Last Flyers Game: They also ran into a hot goalie as the Flyers only got one goal on 39 shots and the Wild got 2 past the Flyers for the win.
The Last Devils / Flyers Game: Going into this game it seemed that the Flyers had the Devils number this season. They had won the previous two games 5-2 and then 3-2 but the Devils didn’t want to hear that nonsense. Elias scored twice, including his 300th of his career and Marty stopped 22 of 23 as NJ got the 4-1 victory.
Tonight’s Matchup: Follow the formula that was used in New York on Saturday night. Sure, Emery (if he plays) can be a spotlight stealing goalie but he’s nursing an injury so I don’t imagine him being 100%.
Devils had an optional practice yesterday morning which caught Mottau and Fraser working on passing. I was glad to see Mottau working hard yesterday because the one big error he made Satruday resulted in a goal against, something he was certainly disappointed in.
As for the lines, I liked what I saw on Saturday with the exception of Peters. That guy never does much and Saturday he got into two quick fights and then got benched in the third as we double shifted a wing. I’d keep the lines the same, including Peters since we’ll probably need a little muscle tonight. I certainly would keep Kovalchuk and Elias together as their chemistry needs to grow and once it does, should be incredible.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Patrik Elias
Jay Pandolfo – Rob Niedermayer – Brian Rolston
Andrew Peters – Dean McAmmond – Vladimir Zharkov
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Anssi Salmela – Mark Fraser
Devils better expect the Flyers to be up for the game. They need the points and who better to get points against than a division rival. Flyers haven’t been doing well lately and will want to make a statement tonight. For some reason I think this game is more about the offense of both teams rather than the man in between the pipes.