Today’s NHL Predictions features a massive Metro Division showdown between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils (16-12-1) enter tonight after a disappointing loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Flyers (17-10-3) have been one of the season’s big surprises and enter tonight after a 1-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Tonight’s game also marks game two of the Devil’s season-high five-game home stand.
In their last meeting, the Devils squandered a late 3-1 lead before winning in OT. Akira Schmid made a season-high 44 saves and Luke Hughes scored the winning goal off of a feed from his brother Jack. That win also came at a time when the Devils started to right the ship with the return of Nico Hischier to the lineup. This time around the surging Flyers look to get revenge on a Devils team that has been very inconsistent, especially at home.
NHL Predictions: New Jersey vs. Philadelphia
Three Keys to Victory for New Jersey
Time For Timo To Step Up
Let’s call it as it is, Timo Meier has not had a good season. Meier has still yet to look like the player he was last season, and certainly not like an $8.8 million per season player. Since his return from injury, Meier has gone eight games pointless. His abysmal -4.5 Goals Above Expected is a full two goals worse than the next Devil, Ondrej Palat. The lack of production is eye-opening, but the most concerning part of his game is his seeming lack of aggression. In the Rangers playoff series, Meier showed how much he can affect the game with just his presence, even without scoring. And yes it’s unfair to ask him to play with playoff intensity every night, but if he’s not going to find the back of the net, he needs to find other ways to affect the game.
Set The Tone At Home
Similar to last season, the Devils have yet to find footing at the Prudential Center. However, last season was not nearly as bad at home as this year has been. So far the Devils have a 6-7-1 home record, the worst in the Metro and tied for the worst in the conference. The Devils have been an enigma on home ice. They’ve lost games to the lowly Sharks, Ducks, and Blue Jackets. Yet, they have beaten good teams like the Bruins, Islanders, and Red Wings. The five-game home stand they’re currently on is massive for a few reasons. The first being to get their home record straight. But more importantly, to pick up wins against division rivals. Tonight’s Turnpike rivalry should have a playoff-type atmosphere, something the Devils should thrive off of.
Another Devils Killer To Conquer
There are a good handful of players who have success against the Devils, and Travis Konecny is one of them. He’s scored 12 times in his career against the Devils and is in the midst of a career year. Konecny leads the Flyers in goals (16), points (25), is second in Goals Above Expected (3.7), and is on pace for a career-high 68 points. He is also entering tonight’s game on a hot streak, with eight points in his last six games, including two multi-goal games. In the past, he has given the Devils fits and will be someone they will have to key in on. Lindy Ruff has the last change, which he will have to use to his advantage whenever number 11 hops over the boards. The Devils have done a nice job slaying Devils killers this year and will have to keep it going against Konecny tonight.
The Devils have been on shaky ground at home all season, while the Flyers have been great on the road. They rose to the challenge when Boston came to town last week in a playoff-like atmosphere. The question comes down to consistency at home. They’ve been solid bouncing back from bad losses and will need to do so again after that dud against Anaheim. A John Tortorella hockey team will never give you an easy game, and this is no different. The Devils need this win badly, but it’s hard seeing the Flyers not testing the Devils resolve. Win or lose, it should be a close one.
Prediction: Flyers Win 4-3
Main Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports