The New Jersey Devils end their four game road trip when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.
GAMETIME: 7:00 PM, EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record Vs. Flyers: 4-0-0NHL.com Preview
Well, I did get a chance to finish watching the Atlanta-Devils game from earlier this week and I'm glad some Devils forwards returned to being productive (coughEliascoughPZLlinecough). However, with respect to the whole game, I don't think I should have to say this but I will. Playing sloppy and undisciplined hockey is a great way to give the Flyers a better opportunity to win. Ergo, don't do it.
Anyway, the last time I did a preview of the Flyers, I pretty much discounted them in almost every way I could easily find. Then the Flyers went ahead on and took NJ to the limit, with the Devils fortunately prevailing in the shootout. Therefore, while the Flyers are the 30th best team out of 30, that is no reason to underestimate them. Sure, they have not won at home since November 24 (so says the NHL.com Preview); but given it's a local rival and they have a large home winless streak, they can easily see every reason to come out skating hard and taking it to the Devils. As Claude Julien says in Tom Gulitti's column in today's Bergen Record:
"Philadelphia's playing very well lately," Julien said. "You saw the game they played against us [a 4-3 Devils' shootout win Jan. 20] and every game that they've played they've had chances to win. They're a lot more confident and more determined."
The main point of the article was explaining why one should not expect backup Scott Clemmensen to start any time in the near future. It's implied that Martin Brodeur will be in net tonight again. Which isn't a bad thing, as he's kind of a big deal what with being the best goaltender in the NHL today. Tom Lycan at Devils Due seems to argue differently,
which is a fair point. Brodeur has played an incredible amount of games and a break may be a good idea. On the other hand, no one knows Brodeur's health like Brodeur himself. I'm a big believer in playing the best players at all times and if Brodeur says he's fine, then there's no real reason for Julien to say "No, sit down, you're not getting the start tonight."
Rich Chere's article in the Star Ledger cites praise for Patrik Elias' role in being a captain.
Elias leads by example and past Devils have had a lot of success doing just that in a leadership role. In the last Flyers game, the offense was frustrating in terms of poor decisions, poor shot selection, and being stymied by Antero Niitymaki, who was "enjoying" a very long losing streak himself. Given that the forwards shown they can produce in the 5-4 shootout loss to Atlanta, Elias should use the game - while a disappointing loss - as a stepping stone to lead the offense to be productive. If only to give the team some breathing room in games. Again, I shouldn't have to say that this production should come at the cost of poor back checking. So I won't.
Both Chere and Gulitti articles state that Lowell Devil forward Rod Pelley has been called up to the team. He has 8 goals and 9 assists in 39 games with Lowell, with a +2 rating and 27 penalty minutes. No, Jay Pandolfo does not seem to be injured; so I think he'll transplant Erik Rasmussen on the fourth line. Here's a brief "scouting report" on Pelley at Hockey's Future.
It is my understanding, he has not been called up for his shot but namely because he's also a physical player. Loves to hit and has something resembling a shot. Why? Why not, give the fourth line a little shake up, in my opinion. I'm pretty sure it'll be Pelley's first game in the NHL tonight, should he play, so good luck to him. I think these will be tonight's lines against Philadelphia:
Lastly, don't let Peter Forsberg go around unattended. Yes, he's been hurt. Yes, he's looking for a trade. But he's still Peter Forsberg. GO DEVILS!
Labels: Devils Game