Flyers-Devils: What you need to know


Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

Flyers at Devils -- 7:30 p.m., CSNNBCSN
Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.

For the first time since 2008-09, the Flyers have opened their season 0-2 after back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

Poor special teams play and a lack of scoring have plagued the Flyers in the early going.

Next up for the Flyers are a familiar foe in the New Jersey Devils. Tuesday night's matchup will mark the first of five meetings this season between these two bitter Atlantic Division rivals.

Flyers: 0-2

Devils: 1-0

Last meeting
The last time these two teams met, the Devils ended the Flyers' 2012 postseason run with a 3-1 Game 5 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Bryce Salvador, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored for New Jersey and veteran netminder Martin Brodeur made 27 saves. Max Talbot netted the Flyers' only marker.

After taking Game 1 of the series, 4-3 in overtime, the Flyers dropped four in a row to the Devils. New Jersey outscored the orange and black, 18-11, in the five-game series.

The Flyers went 3-2-1 against the Devils in the 2011-12 regular-season series, outscoring New Jersey 18-15 in the process.

Previous games
The Flyers allowed three third-period goals and fell to the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon. Thomas Vanek recorded five points (two goals, three assists) for the Sabres. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each netted second-period goals for the Flyers.

New Jersey is coming off a 2-1 road victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Clarkson scored the game-winning goal at the 8:17 mark of the third period. Travis Zajac also scored for the Devils and Brodeur made 18 saves.

Who's hot
The Flyers are only two games into their 48-game, lockout-shortened season, but Claude Giroux is picking up right where he left off last season. The 25-year-old has found the back of the net in two consecutive games and has ripped six shots on opposing goaltenders.

Giroux finished 2011-12 third in the NHL in scoring with 93 points (28 goals, 65 assists). It was the most points by a Flyer since Eric Lindros had 93 in 1998-99. Giroux also collected eight goals and nine assists in 10 playoff games last postseason.

Who's not
Special teams seem to be a problem for the Flyers in the early going. The Flyers have allowed five goals on nine attempts while shorthanded and have cashed in on just 1 of 9 attempts on the power play.

Keep an eye on ...
Now that Zach Parise is gone -- he signed a 13-year deal with the Minnesota Wild in the offseason -- it's now Kovalchuk's show in New Jersey. The sharpshooting Russian forward scored 37 goals and had 83 points in 77 games for the Devils in 2011-12. The 29-year-old, who is used to having the spotlight on him having carried the Atlanta Trashers for parts of five seasons, registered 15 points in 10 total games against the Flyers last season.

Ilya Bryzgalov has looked sharp in net through two games, although his numbers don't indicate it. The Flyers' netminder has a 3.05 goals against average and .909 save percentage. Bryzgalov has performed well against New Jersey in his career. He is 4-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA in five regular-season starts against the Devils, and has shutouts in two of his last three.

Potential debut?
The Flyers on Monday recalled winger Tye McGinn from the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. McGinn will be available for Tuesday's matchup with New Jersey and could potentially make his NHL debut with Zac Rinaldo and Danny Briere nursing injuries.

The 22-year-old participated in last week's Flyers training camp and has 11 goals, four assists and 52 penalty minutes in 33 games with the Phantoms this season.

Flyers: Rinaldo will be out a minimum of seven days because of a laceration on his right thigh, per general manager Paul Holmgren.

Briere is still recovering from a hairline fracture in his left wrist. Sources told Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio that Briere will not play against the Devils.

Devils: Adam Henrique (thumb) is on Injured Reserve and is expected to be out for at least two more weeks.

Sound off
Who do you think will win the Atlantic Division this year?

E-mail Tim Riday at

Rival Penguins may be what Flyers need to get off to fast start

Rival Penguins may be what Flyers need to get off to fast start

VOORHEES, N.J. — Saturday might be a good time for the slow-starting Flyers to meet their cross-state archnemesis.
The Pittsburgh Penguins often bring out the best in the Flyers.
They’re sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with 11 points and their veteran leaders, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, are having an impact.
“Stanley Cup champs, it’s going to be emotional,” Jakub Voracek understated. “Something has to change tomorrow. That team is very fast. If we’re gonna have a slow start, they’ll jump out 2-0 or 3-0 and it will be hard to come back. We can’t afford to do that tomorrow.”
The Flyers had been living off comebacks lately, but fell short against the Coyotes in Thursday's 5-4 loss.
Since 2014, the Flyers are 4-1-0 against the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center. That’s the good news. 
The bad news is the Flyers have given up 30 goals this season — tied for worst in the league — and they’re meeting an offensive machine.
“These are always intense games with a fun atmosphere and we’ve got to be ready for it,” said goalie Steve Mason, whose slot has been under siege with uncontested shots lately. “We don’t want to take them lightly and get off on the wrong foot like we did [against Arizona]. 
“We've got to take the play to them and not sit back and let them dictate things. They’re too good for that.”
Head coach Dave Hakstol said after the Flyers’ poor first-period performance against the Coyotes that it shouldn’t matter who they face next, they simply need to start faster. It’s been a problem most of this season and haunted them early last fall, as well.
“They’re a team that comes out hard and it’s as good a challenge as any for us,” Hakstol said. “After the loss in our building, it shouldn’t matter who we’re playing at the start of the hockey game.”
Interestingly, Mason said following that loss that the Flyers seem hell-bent on trying to outscore their opponents without taking care of their defensive responsibilities. 
Given the influx of speed and some new offensive talent, perhaps the emphasis has switched to offense at the expense of defense.
Offensively, Claude Giroux (nine points) and Voracek (eight) are among the top 10 in NHL scoring. Giroux leads the league in three areas: nine assists, six power-play assists and six power-play points.
Rookie Travis Konecny is tied for fifth with six assists. Wayne Simmonds’ four power-play goals rank first with Matt Moulson (Buffalo). 
A lot of offense behind the Flyers' 28 goals scored.
“It’s a good question,” Voracek said. “It’s tough to say. It’s still early, but if you’re going to get scored on so many goals a game, you’re obviously doing something wrong. Might be the case. It’s hard to answer. 
“We have to make sure even if we have talented players offensively ... we have to be responsible defensively. In today’s hockey, everybody can play defense.” 
You never know which direction these games against Pittsburgh will go. They can be very physical and low scoring. Or they can be wide open, pond hockey with a goal-fest. 
“Bluntly, last year, they played a fast, pressure-type game and I didn’t think we dealt very well with it,” Hakstol said. “That won’t be any different tomorrow.
“They’ll play a fast, pressure-type game and we have to be ready to deal with it and take advantage of it. That will be a challenge for us.”
Defensive pairs
Hakstol changed his defensive pairs in practice. 
Brandon Manning worked with Radko Gudas; Ivan Provorov worked with Mark Streit; and Nick Schultz was with Shayne Gostisbehere.
Why the changes?
“They weren’t very good [against Arizona],” Hakstol replied. “It’s not all on the D-pairs, that’s for sure. There is some thought process behind ... switching the pairs. But ultimately, the goal is to have a more competitive group of six back there playing below the top of our circles.”
Andrew MacDonald, who had several turnovers/miscues this week, will sit against the Penguins.
Hakstol didn’t mince words when asked why he was reinserting Schultz into the lineup.
“Absolute, competitive, prideful defender,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
As for the lines, it would appear Nick Cousins will be scratched because he centered Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton in practice and both are injury scratches right now.

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Ryan White was whisking by to the visiting locker room when he had to stop.
With huge delight, the long-haired forward hugged a Flyers employee in bright orange athletic gear standing outside the laundry room. 
The two exchanged hellos and good wishes before White’s path was impeded again.
None of this was a nuisance. This is what he loved.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I miss here in Philly is the people around the rink are great,” White said late Thursday night inside the Wells Fargo Center. “The guys from the locker room attendants to the security guys to people taking care of my girlfriend and stuff like that. It’s a special place to play and I always felt like I was welcomed here.”
White had just scored his first goal of the 2016-17 season. All offseason, he hoped and planned for the occasion to be in a Flyers sweater. He talked about his endearment for the organization trumping the worth of money elsewhere.
But on Thursday night, he was wearing an Arizona Coyote uniform and, what he called, “putting the final nail in the coffin” of a 5-4 loss for the Flyers.
“It feels good scoring here,” he said.
Not at all how he pictured it.
Playing fourth-line minutes (8:09), White somehow snuck a shot past Steve Mason from a nasty side angle with 4:19 remaining in regulation, making it 5-3 and virtually snuffing another Flyers comeback bid.
“Any time you’re coming back playing your old club, you want to make sure you get a win. … I loved playing as a Flyer, it was a lot of fun playing here,” White said. “Guys over there are a great group of guys, good coaching staff, good people in the organization. It’s just a special place to play.”
It’s where White wanted to be but he holds no ill will towards general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers. Hextall liked and expressed interest in re-signing White, a role-playing fourth-liner, but went out and inked free-agent right winger Dale Weise (four-year, $9.4 million deal), more of a third-line player with similar attributes.
That signaled White’s end with the Flyers after two seasons.
“I think I’d be crazy if I didn’t want to come back here, it just didn’t work out,” White said. “I’m just happy I’ve gotten a chance to play in Phoenix and it’s been pretty good so far.”
White on Wednesday night caught up with former Flyers teammates Radko Gudas and Michal Neuvirth. While with the Flyers, he lived in the same building as the two. They all had dinner and White got to visit Gudas’ baby daughter.
On the ice, White, gritty and physical-minded, made his presence felt. He was penalized in the second period for charging Nick Cousins. He was also called for a delay of game penalty in the final two minutes for closing his hand on the puck. The Flyers scored on the power play, ironically turning White’s goal into the gamer-winner.
“He told me he just wanted the winning goal,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said with a laugh. “So that’s all that counts.”
White enjoyed the rough-and-tough nature against his old friends. 
“All those guys play hard, they know how the game goes,” he said. “I had a little conversation with Gudy last night at dinner and he said, ‘You’re going to be running around out there.’ I figured it would be no other way. You’ve got to expect that coming from those guys, they’re a hard group over there.
“Those guys know how I play and they all play the same way, too, so it was fun.”
He also appreciated seeing the Flyers Heritage Night pregame ceremony honoring the organization’s legends, led by late founder Ed Snider. White kept tabs on the Flyers’ home opener last week when a banner commemorating Snider was raised to the rafters.
“I even heard about the first game coming back, it was pretty emotional in here,” he said. “It was a pretty special time playing here with Mr. Snider around. I think he’ll obviously be forever missed and like I said, it was just special to be a part of it.”
White wasn’t sure what to expect in his return. In the end, he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s funny, I thought maybe coming back here, it would be a little bit different,” White said. “But they’re a pretty welcoming group and it’s nice to be here.”
Even if it’s just for one game.