It’s a quiet night in the NHL on Friday with just three games on the card. There isn’t much time left in this lockout-shortened NHL season, and the Philadelphia Flyers are on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff picture. That means Friday night’s showdown with their Atlantic rivals from New Jersey is massive.
The Devils have won three of their last four and they’re starting to find their form without goalie Martin Brodeur, who is suffering from back issues. Johan Hedberg has stepped in and is starting to look more comfortable in nets, but the Devils would love to have their longtime MVP back between the pipes. Hedberg looked sharp in a 5-2 win over the Flyers in New Jersey on Wednesday, stopping 23 shots.
The Flyers have lost four of their last five after getting beaten by the Devils, but they’re still only three points out of eighth place heading into Thursday’s games. Philly’s defense has to shore up as they’ve allowed four goals or more in three of those losses and with Ilya Bryzgalov looking as inconsistent as ever, the defensemen either have to play much better or the offense has to start firing on all cylinders.
New Jersey has won all three meetings with Philadelphia in 2013 and have now stretched their winning streak against the Flyers to seven in a row; for whatever reason, they just seem to have the Flyers’ number. They’ve also won five of their last seven trips to Philadelphia, and Hedberg has won his last three starts in the “City of Brotherly Love”, although they were back in the 2011-12 season. Still, Philly is struggling and the Devils are doing what they do: plugging along despite not being as talented as some of their Atlantic Division brethren and they’ll grind out another victory on Friday as road underdogs on the betting lines.