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Tonight the Devils play their final game of what has been an encouraging preseason. New Jersey is looking to end things on a high note with a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, and take both back-to-back games. Like Philadelphia, the Devils are dealing with injuries that are affecting the makeup of the lines they’d like to start the regular season with. They’ll be without Kyle Palmieri (injured in Wednesday’s game), Patrik Elias (who appears to be missing the start of the season), and Tyler Kennedy (personal matter). The Flyers are still without Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl and will boast a similar squad to the one New Jersey faced Wednesday night.
The most notable change the Flyers appear to be making is inserting veteran center Vincent Lecavlier into the lineup after Chris Porter (who scored last game) was claimed off waivers by Minnesota. He’ll likely center the second or third line with Wayne Simmonds, Sam Gagner, or Matt Read along his sides. Philadelphia’s dynamic duo of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek will remain in tact for tonight’s matchup as well. Regardless of the first game’s outcome, the Devils can’t take the Flyers offense lightly and need to stay on their toes. Playing an offense of this caliber in back-to-back games is a great way to go into the regular season.
The pairing of Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Medvedev was Philadelphia’s most effective on Wednesday night. I mentioned in Wednesday’s pre-game article to keep an eye on Michael Del Zotto and he didn’t fail to disappoint. He registered two assists, shots, and blocks apiece, was second in power play time, and logged over 20 minutes of ice time. Medvedev had two shots, three blocks, and the same amount of playing time. It will be interesting to see how Flyers coach Dave Hakstol matches up his top defense pairings of Del Zotto-Medvedev and Streit-Schultz against New Jersey’s line combinations.
Neither goaltender that played in Wednesday’s matchup is in nets tonight. While Cory Schneider gets the nod in the Devils preseason finale, Steve Mason will start the game for Philadelphia. He’s done well over the past few weeks and like Neuvirth, has been a big part of his team’s winning preseason. In his last game, Mason faced over 40 shots against the Rangers before succumbing to a 3-2 loss in overtime. He’ll undoubtedly like to finish his last game before the end of training camp on a positive note, going into the season as Philadelphia’s starting goalie.
Who to watch
Sergey Kalinin…He’s flown under the radar since Joe Blandisi stole the spotlight, who many fans felt deserved Kalinin’s current spot in the lineup. He’s won in two of the three games he’s played this preseason, and has registered shots, blocks, hits, and takeaways in each one. Coach Hynes appreciates the Russian center’s defensive play and ability to contribute offensively when it’s warranted. In addition to knowing he’s been part of a winning formula when he’s played, a good showing tonight could guarantee Kalinin will find himself on the opening night roster.
Vincent Lecavlier…His window gets smaller each year and I think I speak for everyone when I say what a shame it is to see how much a once-bright flame has faded. It isn’t like Coach Hakstol isn’t giving him chances to impress. He knows the only way Lecavlier can be an effective player is if he’s in a top-six role. While he personifies the major problems that have set back this Flyers team, their biggest hope for Lecavlier is he can somehow tap into just a portion of the player he was seven or eight years ago. He has to play desperate motivated hockey tonight.
What to watch
Physicality…One part of last night’s game the Flyers dominated in was hitting, in which they fleeced New Jersey 37-15. While it didn’t keep New Jersey from coming out on top the other night, they probably can’t take on another barrage of physicality like that; at least not without brandishing some hits of their own. The Flyers have always used intimidation as a way to get inside their opponents, which the less tenured and first-year Devils aren’t as familiar with compared to past teams.
Sleeping giants…Philadelphia’s top line of Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek had a relatively quiet night when these teams first met. Giroux was the only one to get on the score sheet with an assist, and only averaged four shots amongst the three of them. The Devils defense can’t take this happening again tonight for granted, and need to elevate their game with Giroux’s line is out on the ice.
Where to watch
TCN Philadelphia (Local station)
No local feed or streams in the New York/New Jersey area yet. Will update our Facebook and Twitter accounts if anything changes
When to watch