Game 69: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils
Date and Time: Sunday, March 11, 2012, 7 PM
Location: Prudential Center
TV: MSG (Devils Pregame at 6:30)
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The Matchup: The Philadelphia Flyers are riding a five game win streak as they take on the hometown New Jersey Devils at 7 o'clock this evening. The Devils, who are 4-1 in their last five, defeated the Flyers in the last meeting between the two teams, 6-4. Martin Brodeur will start tonight for New Jersey as he looks for career win number 650.
Keys to the Game: Strong defense will be the key in this game for both teams. Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and David Clarkson have been lighting up the goal lamps recently and Philadelphia will have to keep them in check. On the other side of the fense, Claude Giroux is Philadelphia's leading point-getter; New Jersey's strong defensive effort against the Islanders on Saturday evening will have to carry over into Sunday if the Devils want to win.
Score early and score first. In big rivalry games such as this, it is very important to get the first goal. By giving the puck to Kovalchuk, Parise, and Clarkson very often, the Devils will have a good chance at scoring first. This will take some pressure off of Martin Brodeur and the defense. Look for the Devils to break out early and possibly score in the first five minutes.
Playoff Picture: The Devils currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 83 points, just two behind Philadelphia. The two points at stake tonight are of great importance to New Jersey. Both teams look to have solidified a playoff spot and are now looking to better their position in the standings. Although it seems unlikely that either team will catch up to the New York Rangers, anything can happen.
Injuries: For New Jersey, Travis Zajac (Achilles) and Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) will sit out of tonight's game. For the Flyers, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros will be out with lower-body injuries. James van Riemsdyk will also be out (foot surgery), and Jacob Voracek (head) is doubtful.
Season Series: The season series is currently tied at two. Philadelphia defeated the Devils on opening night by a score of 3-0. On November 3, the Devils defeated the Flyers by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. On January 21, 2012, the Flyers defeated New Jersey 4-1. And finally, the Devils defeated the Flyers on February 4, 2012, by a score of 6-4. Interestingly enough, both of the two teams' wins against one another has come on the road.
Prediction: I'll be at the game tonight... and I haven't seen the Devils win a game I've been to since January 17. However, the Devils have been playing better hockey recently, and I feel like they can pull out a 3-1 victory tonight. Scoring for the Devils will be Kovalchuk, Clarkson, and Henrique; for the Flyers, Scott Hartnell. If you'll be at the game this evening, I'll be in Section 111. Come say hello!