Devils vs. Flyers Preview
Looking to avoid a season-high fourth straight defeat on Saturday, Philadelphia will try to win its fifth in a row at home against the Devils, who have dropped their last four on the road.
Philadelphia (15-7-4) is among the league leaders with 3.3 goals per game. Coach Peter Laviolette's club, though, has scored just three times during a 0-1-2 skid and was shut out for the second time this season Wednesday, 3-0 at home to Boston.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Flyers –193 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Devils. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 63 bets for this game have been placed on the Flyers -193.
"We've slipped the last three games," Laviolette, whose team is two points behind Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh, told the Flyers' official website. "... If you want to stay at the top (of the standings) you have to win consistently."
Philadelphia did just that following its last three-game skid, averaging 4.2 goals during a 10-1-1 stretch from Oct. 23-Nov. 15.
The Flyers could have a different look Saturday with captain Mike Richards skating with Ville Leino and Jeff Carter, while Danny Briere could be alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell.
"It's the same kind of set up as me and Jeff on the half-wall," said Briere, who scored in a 2-1 shootout loss in New Jersey on Nov. 27. "Now it's me and Claude and Jeff has moved to the other unit? (Coach Laviolette) just trying to find ways to get it clicking again."
Devils coach John MacLean thought his club was heading in the right direction following last week's victory over Philadelphia - the team's third win in four games - but New Jersey (8-15-2) took a step back Thursday, falling 5-1 to Northeast-leading Montreal.
"We definitely can't play like that going into Philly, so we're going to have to build off the last time we played Philly and bring that effort in there," MacLean told the Devils' official website.
Johan Hedberg made 40 saves in last week's victory over the Flyers, and will try to recapture that form after getting pulled 1:38 into Thursday's setback after allowing two goals on three shots.
Hedberg, 4-0-0 with a 1.47 goals-against average in his last four starts versus Philadelphia, might need another strong performance with the Devils averaging a league-worst 1.8 goals. New Jersey has scored three times while dropping its last four road games.
The last time the Devils lost five in a row on the road was an 0-5-1 stretch from Jan. 26-Feb. 13.
Improved play from Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac could help the Devils win their first game in regulation at Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 4, 2008. Kovalchuk has no goals in the last eight games while Zajac has none in 11 straight.
"We've got all the talent in the world and we can't even get to the (offensive) zone," Kovalchuk said of a Devils club that's 1 for 23 on the power play in the last eight games.
Richards, who has no goals in the last five games, will try to help the Flyers' struggling power-play unit convert more consistently. Philadelphia is 2 for 37 with the man advantage over the last eight contests.
If rookie Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal for Philadelphia, it will be his first against New Jersey. The NHL rookie of the month for November is 12-4-2 with a 2.18 GAA.
Brian Boucher, who made 24 saves in the Nov. 27 loss, turned away 32 shots in the Devils' last regular-season visit to Philadelphia, a 5-1 Flyers victory on March 28.