Flyers at Devils
The topsy-turvy Philadelphia Flyers were trending upward with wins in three straight prior to their league-mandated five-day break in their schedule. The Flyers aim to pick up where they left off on Saturday when they open a two-game road trip versus the New Jersey Devils, who have dropped a season-high five straight contests (0-2-3).
Philadelphia answered a disastrous 10-game winless skid that nearly derailed its season with an 11-4-1 mark in its last 16, highlighted by the scintillating play of the top line of captain Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Giroux (team-high 52 points), who is on pace to best his career-high point total of 93 in 2011-12, was the Flyers' lone All-Star selection while Sean Couturier (career-high 23 goals) and Jakub Voracek (NHL-best 43 assists) were bypassed for the honor of playing on Jan. 28 in Tampa Bay. Forward Taylor Hall will represent New Jersey in the All-Star Game and exits the NHL's mandated break with a three-game goal-scoring streak. The 26-year-old has flustered the Flyers to the tune of seven goals and as many assists in 11 career encounters.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Philadelphia, MSG-Plus (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE FLYERS (19-15-8): Philadelphia has plenty of warts outside of the top line, including the team's penchant for slow starts as its 28 goals in the first period are significantly fewer than its totals in the second (54) and third (39). Wayne Simmonds has endured significant slumps in November and December to record three goals and two assists in his last five games. The 29-year-old struggled mightily last season versus the Devils, failing to dent the scoresheet in all five encounters while finishing with a minus-3 rating.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (22-11-8): Saturday's game will be the first between the teams since New Jersey selected Nico Hischier No. 1 overall in the 2017 draft and Philadelphia chose Nolan Patrick at No. 2. While Patrick has struggled to get going during his rookie season, the 19-year-old Hischier has 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 41 games and has spurred the Devils' ascent from last place in the Eastern Conference to third place in the Metropolitan. "It's going to be real enjoyable watching Nico over his development on and off the ice," New Jersey general manager Ray Shero said. "As he gets older, we'll see how handles things, but he certainly is a great fit for us, and he's been a great addition."
1. New Jersey's sixth-ranked power play has scored nine times in the last 12 games.
2. Philadelphia is 5-for-12 with the man advantage over the last three contests.
3. Devils G Cory Schneider entered the break at an opportune time, as he has permitted four goals in four straight games.