Flyers

Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

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Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

Flyers at Devils – 7 p.m., CSN
Prudential Center, Newark

The Flyers will continue their six-game road trip when they take on the New Jersey Devils Friday night in the second of five meetings between these two Atlantic Division rivals this season.

Despite losing All-Star winger Zach Parise to free agency this past offseason, the Devils have gotten off to a very strong start to this lockout-shortened season. They currently sit atop the Eastern Conference with 19 points through 13 games.

Both teams should be fresh heading into Friday’s contest, as each club had a rare two-day break in between games.

Records
Flyers: 6-7-1 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)

Devils: 8-2-3 (First in Atlantic Division, First in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
In the first matchup between these two teams this season, veteran netminder Martin Brodeur made 24 saves to record his 10th all-time shutout against the Flyers in New Jersey’s 3-0 victory on Jan. 22 in Newark. Travis Zajac and David Clarkson each scored first-period markers for the Devils. Sniper Ilya Kovalchuk beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a nice deke on a penalty shot -- while shorthanded -- in the second to put the game away.

Previous games
The Flyers’ line of Tye McGinn, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek led the way in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. McGinn and Schenn each scored tip-in goals that were assisted by Voracek. Bryzgalov was strong in net, making 24 saves for his sixth victory of the season.

New Jersey had its five-game winning streak snapped after suffering a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Kovalchuk and Ryan Carter both recorded tallies for the Devils, who lost in regulation for the first time at home this season.

Who's hot
The chemistry building between Voracek and Schenn has greatly benefited a Flyers team that has struggled offensively most of the season. Voracek has two goals and six assists in his last eight games and is now leading the Flyers in scoring with 10 points. Schenn has four points in his last three contests and is second on the team with nine points.

McGinn has been a pleasant surprise for the Flyers. The 22-year-old rookie has provided a ton of energy in his 11 games this season. He has three goals, two assists and two decisive fight wins that have given the Flyers a lot to look forward to this year.

Long-time Devil Patrik Elias has one goal and eight points in his past five games and is tied with Clarkson for the team-lead in points this season with 15.

Clarkson, who is one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, has nine goals in 13 games and has continued to play with a strong physical presence.

Who's not
Although he registered an assist on Kimmo Timonen’s power-play goal on Tuesday, Claude Giroux hasn’t been the offensive force he was in 2011-12. Giroux has three goals and five assists in 14 games. Last season, he amassed 93 points in just 77 games.

Keep an eye on ...
Sean Couturier, who has missed the past two games with a stomach virus, returned to the ice on Thursday. Couturier centered Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo during practice and is questionable to play against the Devils.

The Devils reacquired veteran forward Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Jets on Wednesday in exchange for two draft picks. Ponikarovsky played 33 regular-season games for New Jersey in 2011-12, recording seven goals and 11 assists. The 32-year-old signed with Winnipeg this offseason after posting one goal and nine points to help the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Did you know?
In eight games away from the Wells Fargo Center this season, the Flyers have mustered only 18 goals -- with seven alone coming in their win over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 26.

Injuries
Flyers: Scott Hartnell is still recovering from surgery to repair his broken left foot. He could begin skating this weekend.

Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) rejoined the Flyers for practice on Thursday wearing the “no contact” yellow jersey. He is expected to miss at least another two weeks.

Jody Shelley (hip) and Michael Leighton (upper-body) are on injured reserve.

Devils: Former Flyer Dainius Zubrus was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday and is expected to miss 2-8 weeks after undergoing exploratory surgery on his left wrist on Thursday.

Matthew Corrente (shoulder surgery) is out for the season.

Sound off
Do you think New Jersey will win the Atlantic?

Flyers-Oilers observations: Red-hot Simmonds plays hero in win over Oilers

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USA Today Images

Flyers-Oilers observations: Red-hot Simmonds plays hero in win over Oilers

BOX SCORE

For the second straight game, the Flyers were forced to get defensive, and this time, they found a way to come out on top, 2-1, over the Edmonton Oilers.

Wayne Simmonds produced the game winner after taking a pass from Valtteri Filppula and snapping it past Cam Talbot with 2:15 remaining in the third period.

It was a tight-checking game that played out similar to what we saw Thursday against the Predators, as the Flyers held the Oilers to 24 shots on net. Connor McDavid registered four shots on net, but wasn’t much of a factor offensively.

The Flyers jumped on the board first with the help of their first power play when Shayne Gostisbehere’s blast from the point was deflected out front by Wayne Simmonds right to Claude Giroux, who corralled the loose puck and punched it into a wide open net for his fifth goal of the season. 

Following an 0-for-5 effort against Nashville, the Flyers needed to capitalize on the man advantage chances.  

“We just have a lot of different looks this year,” Gostisbehere said to NBCSP's Chris Therien during the first intermission. “We have so many plays out there. It’s harder for other teams to prepare for us. We’re getting pucks to the net and our guys are doing what they’re suppose to do.”

Former Phantom Patrick Maroon finally got the Oilers on the board with 4:23 remaining in the second period when he outmuscled rookie Nolan Patrick along the corner boards, coming away with the puck, and making a move past Ivan Provorov, before putting a shot between Brian Elliott’s pads. 

Patrick appeared to have been distracted by a broken stick along the boards that made him hesitate with the puck. The Flyers rookie center could have elevated the puck with his backhand, but by holding onto to it for a split second too long, he allowed Maroon to come up with the takeaway.

• The Flyers got careless defensively in the opening ten minutes of the second period as defensive breakdowns led to some quality scoring chance for the Oilers.

• The Flyers did a solid job of containing last year’s Art Ross Trophy winner McDavid, primarily deploying Scott Laughton’s line along with the Sean Couturier line sometimes during the same shift. McDavid had some extended shifts — three even strength shifts over 1:30 — requiring the Flyers to use a multitude of forwards/defense pairs.

• McDavid left the game briefly in the first period and returned midway through.

• Jori Lehtera produced his best scoring chance of the season when he took Radio Gudas’ outlet pass and attempted to squeeze through a pair of defenders. The plodding Lehtera was unable to gain enough speed for an uncontested shot, but with his strong forearms and hands, he was able to draw a slashing penalty and still put a shot on net. 

• Last season, Giroux didn’t score his 5th goal until November 29th. 

• Both Taylor Leier and Jordan Weal missed Saturday’s game with upper-body injuries. According to general manager Ron Hextall, both forwards are day-to-day. 

• Referee Ian Walsh was honored prior to the game for officiating his 1,000th career game. Flyers captain Claude Giroux presented Walsh with a framed autographed jersey signed by the team with the No. 1,000 on the back.

Lines, pairings and scratches
Giroux-Couturier-Voracek
Lehtera-Filppula-Simmonds
Weise-Patrick-Konecny
Read-Laughton-Raffl

Provorov-MacDonald
Gostisbehere-Hägg
Sanheim-Gudas

Elliott
Neuvirth

Scratched: Weal, Leier, Manning

Flyers-Oilers thoughts: Welcoming the best player in the world to Philly

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USA Today Images/NBCSP

Flyers-Oilers thoughts: Welcoming the best player in the world to Philly

Flyers (4-3-0) vs. Oilers (2-4-0)
1 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 12:30

The best player in the world comes to South Philly today. Get your popcorn ready.

The Flyers, coming off a 1-0 loss to the Predators, host the Oilers in their first matinee of the season at the Wells Fargo Center. It’s Game 4 of the Flyers’ five-game homestand.

Let’s dive into some pregame thoughts before puck drop.

• Move over, Sidney Crosby. There’s a new sheriff in town. It’s time to anoint Connor McDavid as the best player in the world. Many already have. I’m fully on board now.

This kid is special, and each game he does something that blows your mind. On Thursday night, it was a ridiculous spin-o-rama assist against the Chicago Blackhawks.

What made the play exceptional was who he did it against, Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Between the two are seven All-Star Game appearances, two Norris Trophies and one Conn Smythe Trophy, so that’s no joke.

McDavid has three goals and five assists in six games this season. He has 156 points in 133 career games. He’s 20 years old. He should be the face of the league yesterday.

Market him better. I don’t care that he plays in Canada.

• It’s time to put the Brandon Manning-McDavid storyline to bed. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s overplayed (see story). If Manning is in McDavid’s head, it’s not for the better.

McDavid scored a goal and an assist last season in Philadelphia in his first game against the Flyers since Manning broke McDavid’s collarbone with a clean hockey play.

Then, in Edmonton, McDavid had a goal and two assists. Manning played both games. So if anything, it’s adding extra motivation for the best player in the world.

• It appears Travis Sanheim will remain in the lineup, a positive for two reasons:

1. Thursday against Nashville was Sanheim’s best game.

2. Sanheim’s speed and skating is a plus when having to defend McDavid.

Will Sanheim see much ice time against McDavid? I sure hope not. But the Oilers are a decent skating team, and McDavid’s speed is insane. You want as much speed against them as possible.

• You sure hope Jordan Weal can return after missing Thursday with an injury to part of his body. Weal is an important piece for the Flyers, and without him, Dave Hakstol will have to shuffle up his lines. Simply can’t replace Weal with Jori Lehtera on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

That unit against the Predators was a disaster. If Weal is out again, I’d insert Matt Read into the lineup. He’s better suited for what the Flyers are doing now than Lehtera.

The good news is Weal practiced Friday. He’s expected to play.

• Three random Flyers stats:

1. Jakub Voracek needs two more points to reach 500 in his career. He will become the 23rd Czech player with 500 career points.

2. Shayne Gostisbehere’s 10 points are the most by a Flyers defenseman through the team’s first seven games dating back to the 1987-88 season.

3. Michal Neuvirth leads NHL goaltenders with a .957 save percentage. He was the worst qualified goalie last season in that category.

• The Oilers again will be without center Leon Draisaitl because of a concussion. Draisaitl practiced Friday but is still feeling symptoms. He hasn’t played since Oct. 9.

• Kailer Yamamoto, the Oilers’ 2017 first-round pick, has seen an increased role with Draisaitl injured. Edmonton has four more games to decide whether it’ll keep Yamamoto or send him back to junior. Yamamoto enters today on a three-game assist streak.

Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Jori Lehtera and Matt Read, and defenseman Brandon Manning.