Dropping the Gloves: Flyers' scoring struggles
At least one team is bound to break out, right?
Two of the NHL's worst offensive clubs will face off in a Metropolitan Division clash when the Flyers (4-9-1) host the New Jersey Devils (3-7-4) at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.
With puck drop set for 7 p.m. (CSN), here are five things you need to know for Flyers-Devils:
1. Will anybody score?
Hard times have fallen on these two bitter rivals.
The Flyers have scored just one goal in each of their past two games and rank dead last in the NHL at 1.57 goals per game. The Devils aren't much better. They've been shut out in consecutive games and are second-to-last in the league at 1.86 goals per game.
Entering Thursday's game, the Flyers have netted only two markers in their last 226-plus minutes. New Jersey has gone more than 144 minutes without a tally.
Scoring woes have plagued both teams in the early going, so don't be surprised if Thursday's game looks like a repeat of when the Flyers and Devils last met -- a 1-0 win for the orange and black on Saturday. Brayden Schenn scored the only goal of the game and Ray Emery stopped 14 New Jersey shots for his first shutout of the season.
It's also worth pointing out the Devils are tied for the fewest wins in the league, but have one more point than the Flyers, who sit dead last in the Metropolitan Division. This matchup should be looked at as an early-season must-win for both clubs.
2. Changing it up
Craig Berube is at it again. The Flyers' head coach has tried just about every line combination you can think of in hopes to generate offense, but has not succeeded yet.
At practice Wednesday, Berube moved Jakub Voracek back to the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell (see story). Those three players have combined for just two tallies this season.
“Me, Jake and Hartsy had chemistry before,” said Giroux, who has not found the back of the net in 2013-14. “We can get that early in tomorrow’s game [against New Jersey]."
Berube also ended the Vinny Lecavalier at right wing experiment -- for now. He will center Brayden Schenn and Matt Read against the Devils.
The Flyers have not found much chemistry this season. They've scored a goal or less in eight of their last 14 games and have only scored more than three goals once. That, obviously, has to change.
3. Injury updates
Steve Downie is the only Flyer on the injury list. The newly-acquired forward skated on his own Wednesday and was upgraded to day to day with a concussion (see story).
The Devils, however, have several key players with ailments. Defensemen Bryce Salvador (foot) and Jon Merrill (face) and forwards Patrik Elias (upper body) and Ryan Clowe (concussion) are out for Thursday's matchup.
There is some good news for New Jersey. Travis Zajac, who sprained his ankle at practice last week, could return to the Devils' lineup against the Flyers.
Zajac has just one goal and three assists in 12 games this season. He has recorded 27 points in 39 career regular-season games against the orange and black.
Finally, Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov told reporters Wednesday he would play against the Flyers. He sat out New Jersey's loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday because of a lower-body injury.
4. Minor move
The Flyers on Wednesday recalled Kris Newbury from their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, and sent down forward Tye McGinn.
Why? It's pretty simple. Tye McGinn is not a fourth-line player. That's the role McGinn found himself in on Tuesday. He played just over five minutes while skating with Adam Hall and Zac Rinaldo in the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
It would benefit the Flyers -- and McGinn -- more to give the 23-year-old more ice time with the Phantoms.
Newbury, 31, has appeared in three games for the Flyers this season, registering one assist and seven penalty minutes.
At this point, it makes much more sense for Newbury to eat up fourth-line minutes with the big club and use McGinn in a bigger role with the Phantoms.
5. This and that
• Steve Mason, who has a 3.68 goals-against average vs. New Jersey in his career, is 3-7-1 this season despite not allowing more than three goals in any game.
• The Flyers have lost six of eight games at home this season. The Devils have lost eight of nine on the road.
• Martin Brodeur will start for New Jersey. He is 46-28-1-7 with 11 shutouts, a 2.49 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in his career against the Flyers.