The 2023-2024 season series between the Philadelphia Flyers (18-10-3) and the New Jersey Devils (16-12-2) is a white-knuckle thriller. In two meetings, both exchanged overtime victories. The latest was off the stick of Owen Tippett, 3-2.
These teams next meet at MetLife Stadium for the 2024 Stadium Series. It is lining up to be a national spotlight for this NHL Metropolitan Division rivalry yet to disappoint this season.
A few storylines carried over in last night’s entertaining affair:
Travis Konecny (+)
“We had a good neutral zone, there. That made them cough up the puck, and then we ended up getting lucky where we got set on a two-on-one there. With him [Konecny], you never know, so you always got to be ready for it because he’s so skilled; he can make any play at any point.”Ryan Poehling; 12/19/2023
When these teams played in their first meeting of the season, Smith was suspended two games after slashing Konecny across the arm after winding up his stick like a baseball swing. Poehling finished the odd-man rush on Vitek Vanecek, and Konecny told Smith about it. The rivalry between the Flyers and Devils is very alive.
If this is an ongoing beef between Konecny and Smith during the season series between the two rivals, it might just come to a boil outdoors at MetLife Stadium.
Konecny, in 22:01, included a shot that rang off the post in overtime. By a matter of inches, he nearly twisted the proverbial knife in the chest of New Jersey. His point streak against the Devils extends to five games, dating back to October 13th, 2022.
Sam Ersson (+)
Philadelphia has two competitive, quality goaltenders. It is not a luxury the Flyers are used to, but Sam Ersson radiates confidence as the solid backup to Carter Hart. You can see the confidence radiating on the ice, like when Ersson stopped Curtis Lazar on a breakaway. He made the save and shook his head, akin to Dikembe Mutombo and his patented finger wag.
In his last ten games, Ersson is 8-1-1, including redemption victories against the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks. He hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a start since October. Ersson measures out to about a 1.9GAA and a 92.7%SV.
“I’ve been feeling more and more confident; getting into a little bit more of a flow, getting some games in a row. It’s been a lot of fun, but for me it’s very important to stay in the moment and be present. I know how I started the year; how it feels when things are not going great. [I] just stay in the moment and take it game by game.”Sam Ersson; 12/19/2023
His confidence continues to build, and with that, he is gaining the trust of John Tortorella.
“He’s [Ersson] a real confident kid anyway. The thing that’s impressed me about him is when he was struggling early on, he owned it. He talked about how disappointed he was in his play. Basically, it was him saying ‘I’m going to play better,’ and he has. Each start that he gets, he looks bigger to me. He settles ourselves down. In the third period [and] overtime, he makes some great saves to keep it tied so we have a chance to win. Each game, he’s playing better and better.”John Tortorella; 12/19/2023
Stadium Series Showdown (+)
This is a rivalry that is selling itself! On February 17th, these clubs will meet outdoors at MetLife Stadium.
Outdoor hockey is a spectacle that should be experienced by anyone who enjoys the sport at any level. From the throwback sweaters to the Alumni celebration, the NHL does a great job of promoting the sport’s heritage in an innovative, unique way with the Stadium Series. The presentation represents a slice of nostalgic hockey that brings the new and older audiences together.
New Jersey and Philadelphia, at their pace, are trending toward another overtime battle. The last time the Flyers faced an NHL Metropolitan Division rival in an outdoor game was February 23rd, 2019. Claude Giroux scored the game-winner in front of 69,620 in attendance. In a more recent outdoor game, the Boston Bruins were victorious at Lake Tahoe on February 21st, 2021, during one of the two shortened seasons linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Nashville Predators at 7pm.