Flyers

An early message for a few of the Flyers' defensemen?

Flyers

The Flyers (4-2-1) will have a different combination of defensemen for a third straight game when they play the Devils (3-2-1) again on Thursday.

Let's get into that and more essentials for the game:

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with The Warm Up at 6 p.m. ET and Flyers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. ET
  • Where: Prudential Center
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The sky began to fall on Flyers fans for the 11th time this season (sarcasm) when The Athletic's Michael Russo reported that 34-year-old Nate Prosser would be entering the lineup tonight.

Perhaps this is an early message-sending time for a few of the Flyers' defensemen. Head coach Alain Vigneault made offseason acquisition Erik Gustafsson a healthy scratch on Tuesday night and he has challenged Mark Friedman to give him more since the 25-year-old's so-so training camp.

When healthy, the Flyers will have a competitive picture on the blue line in a shortened 56-game regular season. If you don't perform, Vigneault's leash might not be long for some. He'll make adjustments. He has never been shy to challenge his players.

Friedman and Robert Hagg will be healthy scratches tonight as Prosser and Gustafsson enter the lineup.

Thursday will be Prosser's first NHL game since Jan. 17, 2019. He practiced with the main group Wednesday and was recalled from the taxi squad Thursday.

"I liked Prosser since the beginning of training camp," Vigneault said Thursday in his pregame media availability. "He's an experienced player, a veteran player, he's got quite a few NHL games and 25 playoff games. So he brings experience, he knows the game and right now I believe that he deserves an opportunity to play."

 

The 25-year-old Hagg had played in all seven of the Flyers' games this season. He was steady and effective down the stretch of the 2019-20 regular season. Over the last five games, Hagg had a team-worst minus-4 rating as the Flyers allowed 3.80 goals per game.

"I think Haggs has been average the last couple of games," Vigneault said. "In my estimation, and I talked with Haggs yesterday about his game, I believe that he can be a much more effective defenseman in killing plays and in his 1-on-1 battles, winning more. And making the right decision with the puck, I've talked to him about that, making the higher percentage plays. He's a good player, he's a good defenseman for us. Right now, his game is not where it needs to be and it's up to me and him to work together to get his game to where he can be in the lineup and help this team win some games."

The Flyers played 11 rookies last season and have built up a solid youth movement. Prosser's Flyers debut shows the current outlook on the back end is not ideal. It's also not the end of the world if a veteran serves as the sixth defenseman in Game 8 of the season, especially with Philippe Myers out because of a fractured rib.

• Carter Hart is back in net for the Flyers after a rough two-game stretch in Boston.

The 22-year-old goalie has not been sharp. He endured a similar start last season.

Hart has faced a ton of shots thus far but he's also 2-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in his career against New Jersey.

• James van Riemsdyk is tied with John Tavares for the NHL's lead in power play goals with four.

He had a pair of man advantage goals on redirections in the Flyers' 5-3 win Tuesday over the Devils.

"Riemer's one of the best net-front guys in the league," Ivan Provorov, who assisted both goals, said Wednesday. "Even in practices, if you ever watch practices, he tips almost every single puck you shoot."

Projected lineup

 

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek

Claude Giroux-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny

Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-Joel Farabee

Michael Raffl-Connor Bunnaman-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun

Erik Gustafsson-Nate Prosser

Goalies

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

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