On a snow-dusted Friday evening, the New Jersey Devils will take on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center. This comes after the Devils faced a 2-1 defeat against the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames. Despite the loss, the headlines from that game were dominated by a serious on-ice injury to Mirco Mueller.
Following the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Flyers shot their way back to relevancy for a surprising playoff push. The main reason for the Flyers surprisingly strong second half play was the emergence of goaltender Carter Hart, who has since fallen to injury. After trading away their star trade piece in Wayne Simmonds at the deadline, they look to have reset course a bit, looking past this season and onto the future.
Regardless, the Flyers are never one to go down without a fight, especially against their rivals in the Devils.
Players To Watch
Nolan Patrick: The drama of the 2017 draft continues. When Ray Shero announced that the Devils would choose Nico Hischier over Nolan Patrick, everyone knew all eyes would be on these two whenever the Devils and Flyers meet. While all stats are pointing to Nico having a better career so far, Patrick has scored an assist in each of his last three games.
Jesper Bratt: All signs point to Bratt returning to the lineup on Friday, as he took part in the morning skate as part of the top line. Bratt has been quietly lighting it up, with 11 points in 12 games throughout February. Losses against St. Louis and The New York Rangers are the only games all month where he was held off the scoresheet.
Connor Carrick: After his trade from the Dallas Stars, Carrick made an immediate impact, scoring two assists in his first game as a Devil on Monday against the Canadiens. With Mueller out of the lineup, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the young defensemen get some more playing time. With that, maybe another point or two.
Keys to Victory
Goaltending: The Flyers lost their surprising goaltender of the future Carter Hart to injury, so the Flyers will most likely be going with Talbot since Elliott played in the overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mackenzie Blackwood took the loss against Calgary on Wednesday, so Schneider should be starting in net tonight. Talbot has struggled in goal this year, and if Schneider plays the way he has recently, the Devils should win this goaltending matchup easily.
Something to Prove: Many joked that Wednesday’s lineup looked like the Binghamton Devils due to the amount of AHL call-ups. While the Devils may not have anything else to play for this year, these AHL kids do. They know that all eyes will be on them and they want their names to be remembered come training camp. Add that to the fact that they’re happy and thrilled to be playing in the big leagues makes them fun to watch. Just don’t expect too much from them yet.
Power Play: The Devils have been failing to capitalize on the man advantage for a while now, and a 0/2 power play against Calgary didn’t help. The Flyers have the 29th ranked penalty kill coming into Friday, so maybe this is the game Devils can finally break their power play cold streak and put one on the board.
New Jersey Devils
Van Riemsdyk-Laughton- Hartman
Final Score Prediction
The Devils may not have as good a roster, but they have an extra night of rest and want to beat one of their biggest rivals at home. 3-1 Devils.