The Flyers have been impressive of late, winning four straight, and they are visiting a Devils team who, going into tonight’s game against the Rangers, are in the midst of a four-game slide.
When the teams last met on January 22nd, the confident and streaking Flyers were embarrassed at home 7-3. Before the game, the talk about town was that the Flyers were ready to kill the Boogeyman and reassert their position as the top team in the Atlantic Division. Instead, the Flyers season took a downturn and the city seemed to concede that the Devils just could not be beaten.
But the beat goes on.
The good news in Philly is that Mike Richards is looking fit for duty, not to mention more than deserving of the 'C', and Danny Briere is once again producing points. But the bad news is that New Jersey is a team who can shut down big name players as if turning off a faucet.
For his team to come out of Friday's match up with their hopes still intact, Coach Stevens - a man whose ability to coach on the NHL level has been often questioned in the local media - needs to have his role-players to generate some offense. But more importantly, he cannot have his defense quit on him as they did in January.
To get the best of New Jersey in this pressure situation, it is the Flyers who must apply the pressure. But they must do so without losing control. In their last match up, the Devils power-play equaled a club record by scoring five times. New Jersey seemed to effortlessly move the puck around in the Flyers zone, creating screens and collecting easy goals.
The Flyers must work harder and play smarter than the Devils while at even-strength, since the normally disciplined Devils may not see much of the recently hot Flyers power-play. Even if Philadelphia gets those chances, they still must beat the near-infallible Brodeur.
Philadelphia must come away with one hell of an effort on Friday. Even a tie would be a minor victory. But if they lose again, then they simply stay in Purgatory.