Spying On The Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils

Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers head back to the Wells Fargo Center to host the New Jersey Devils in their first home game of the NHL season. After a 4-3 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, the Flyers have the momentum heading into this game. Philadelphia’s powerplay came alive against the Blackhawks and Travis Konecny led the Flyers to their first victory of the season. To improve to 2-0, Philadelphia is going to have to keep that same energy against their saboteur of the Metropolitan Division, the Devils.

In their most recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils were dismantled in a 7-2 loss. Mackenzie Blackwood has played in both contests for the Devils this season after Cory Schneider was injured on October 4th, 2019. Schneider currently has an undisclosed injury, so it seems that Blackwood will be making his second start this season against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, this a new look New Jersey team with additions such as PK Subban and former Flyer Wayne Simmonds. Philadelphia has had quite a challenge against the Devils lately, but under new coach Alain Vigneault, the Flyers may be able to change history.

New Jersey Devils – Skaters

The leading scorer on the New Jersey Devils is Blake Coleman, with two goals and an assist. Each of his statistics has come off of even-strength opportunities. Coleman is scoring on 33.3% of his shots. Just as impressive is Travis Zajac who has a goal and an assist in two games during even-strength hockey. Zajac is scoring 100% of his shots.

Defensively, Andy Greene is the defensemen who deserves the attention. With a +/- of 3, his lines have surrendered the least amount of goals while blocking four shots and amassing two hits. Sami Vatanen is another player who has no problem getting physical on the defensive side of the puck for the Devils. He only has a +/- of 1 but has blocked six shots and thrown his weight around eight times on opposing players.

New Jersey Devils – Goaltending

On the depth chart, the starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils is Cory Schneider. He started the first game of the season, saving 19 of 21 shots with a 90.5% save percentage. However, the Devils are going to be without Schneider again versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Based on the injury report, it looks like Mackenzie Blackwood will be in to redeem himself from that bad outing against the Buffalo Sabres. This season, Blackwood has saved 36 of 45 shots with an 80% save percentage. This game against the Flyers will be the third game that Blackwood has played in. Fatigue could be a factor in this game for the New Jersey goaltender against a Philadelphia offense that was off to a quick start in Prague.

Philadelphia Flyers – Skaters

The only injury to the Philadelphia Flyers is Nolan Patrick, who is still week-to-week with migraines. Travis Konecny is the standout scorer on the Flyers roster after the season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. Konecny totaled three points, two goals, and an assist. Both goals were during even-strength hockey, but Konecny’s assist played a vital role in converting a powerplay chance. He was very potent against the Blackhawks, scoring 66.7% of his shots. Michael Raffl also played well against Chicago, tallying a point off his even strength, game-winning goal. Raffl currently is scoring on 25% of his shots.

Travis Sanheim was the best defenseman on the ice for the Philadephia Flyers in Prague. Sanheim finished with a +/- of 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks and a blocked shot. Not as physical as the New Jersey Devils’ defensemen, but the winning result is what matters. Robert Hagg contributed on the offensive side of the puck with an assist during even-strength hockey. Hagg’s stat line also consisted of a +/- of 1 and two blocked shots. One thing that I am hoping to see is the Flyers’ defensive pairings amassing some hits. Having a physical presence is important in the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers – Goaltending

Against the Chicago Blackhawks, Carter Hart got the start and the win. He saved 28 of 31 shots with a 90.3% save percentage. Tonight will be Hart’s second start if he is granted the back to back start. If not, we may see the 2019-2020 season debut of Brian Elliott. If Elliott does get the start against the New Jersey Devils, I firmly believe that the goaltending advantage is in the Philadelphia Flyers court. I just don’t think Mackenzie Blackwood is better than Elliott or Hart at the goaltender position.

Faceoff Possession

So many scoring opportunities can be based on who wins the faceoff. It can set up a nice lead pass into a breakaway or allow an offense to set up a play in the offensive zone during even-strength hockey or on the powerplay. This statistic is in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers, who have a 64.8% success rate in the faceoff circle as compared to the New Jersey Devils’ 51.4%. Sean Couturier is currently the Flyers’ faceoff specialist, winning 84.6% of the time he is taking the faceoff. On the Devils, it’s Nico Hischier, who is winning his faceoffs 79.5% of the time. No other player in Philadelphia falls under the 50% threshold for faceoff percentages.

Prediction

I’m rolling with the Philadelphia Flyers to get the win tonight. In addition to Cory Schneider being listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, Taylor Hall is also listed as day-to-day after he left the Buffalo Sabres game. His collision with Sabres defensemen Jake McCabe made Hall leave the game. I think the final score will be 4-3, which includes another powerplay goal from the Flyers.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30p on NBC Sports Network, live from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The money line favors the Philadelphia Flyers at -125 with an over/under set at 6.

Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

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