NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
Just under a year ago, the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils battled in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with the Devils winning that series in five games.
Barring a miracle, neither team will make the playoffs in 2013, so this will almost certainly be their final opportunity to face each other before the summer.
The Devils have dominated the season series, winning three games over the Flyers before narrowing losing a shootout to Philadelphia on March 15.
Those games against Philadelphia must seem so long ago in New Jersey. At the time, they looked like a good bet to make the playoffs. Then Ilya Kovalchuk suffered a shoulder injury and they haven’t won since.
That’s 10 straight defeats for the Devils. To make matters worse, they have played 120:37 minutes without scoring a single goal.
“Absurd is a good word for it,” DeBoer said after a 2-0 loss to Toronto on Monday. “I don’t have an answer. I know the guys are emptying the tank.”
Kovalchuk won’t be able to come back and save them tonight. He might not return at all this season.
“I don’t know. I’m taking this day to day, literally,” coach Pete DeBoer told the Star-Ledger. “I’m not looking beyond. He’s not ready for Philly. Let’s look at Florida (Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center).”
With or without him, the Devils need this win. Not for the sake of keeping their bleak playoff hopes alive, just to simply put themselves in a position where maybe they can enter the summer with some kind of silver lining.
The Flyers likely want the same thing. They’ve won their last two games and while their chances of advancing to the postseason are equally bleak, they still have their pride. So these teams will fight and hope that 2013-14 will go differently.
Probable goaltenders: NJD – Martin Brodeur (10-8-7, 2.25 GAA, .901 SV%) | PHI – Steve Mason (4-8-1, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%)
Top scorers: NJD – Patrik Elias (11-20-31, 42 GP) | PHI – Claude Giroux (13-31-44, 43 GP)
New Jersey – Forwards: Kovalchuk Defensemen: Bryce Salvador (wrist)
Philadelphia – Forwards: Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Maxime Talbot (leg), Jody Shelley (hip), Ruslan Fedotenko (upper body) Defensemen: Bruno Gervais (stomach), Kent Huskins (concussion), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion)