Behind two much-needed days of rest, the New Jersey Devils (8-2-3) will host the Philadelphia Flyers (6-7-1) tonight. The Devils have won the last five games against Philadelphia, dating back to four straight wins in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring. In their only meeting so far this season, the Devils popped the Flyers, 3-0, on Jan. 22. The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. at Prudential Center. Here are the game notes and the preview:
Lopsided Rivalry: As mentioned previously, the Devils have won the last five games against their rivals down Interstate-95. More than that, though, New Jersey has completely taken the Flyers mojo from the playoffs last year, and used it against them. Since that playoff series, there has been nothing but question marks and concerns surrounding the now-sub-.500 Flyers.
Poni Express: After being reacquired on Wednesday night, Devils’ forward Alexei Ponikarovsky will be in the lineup to make his New Jersey debut tonight. Ponikarovsky was instrumental in the Devils’ ousting of the Flyers and advancing past the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, most notably with his game three overtime goal against Philadelphia to give the Devils a 2-1 series lead.
First Place: Even after losing their last game on Tuesday, the Devils still hold a first-place lead in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. A win tonight would help New Jersey attempt to start a new streak, after its five game win streak was snapped on Tuesday, and would give them a chance to be the first team to reach 20 points in the Eastern Conference.
Brodeur vs Bryzgalov: In recent times, this match-up has been dominated by Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur. But after Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 11, he produced a winning effort against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 12 and seems to be in a position to try to top Brodeur tonight. Bryzgalov has struggled against the Devils in particular, struggling mightily in games two-through-five last spring. Look for him to try to reverse his luck against New Jersey tonight.