PHILADELPHIA, PA -The Devils are working on playing a full 60 minutes after losing a three-goal lead in their last game.
"Last game that one was tough to swallow," said Devils Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine. "You don't feel great, even though you get a point, it's not a good feeling. The little things in the end matter."
"It's a young group and when you can't close out a game when you have a lead that's 3-0, there's plenty to learn. We addressed that yesterday with the team," said Nasreddine.
Veterans Stepping Up
Although the Devils have a younger team, the veteran leadership in the room is dedicated to helping those players grow.
"I feel pretty old in this locker room," Kyle Palmieri joked. "When I was younger and breaking into the league in Anaheim, it was something that I had guys to look up to, and try to model my game after."
"You find ways to gain knowledge just by watching and being around older guys, and that's one of the things you want to try to set a good example on," said Palmieri. "How you carry yourself when things are going well and when things aren't going well. You try to work and help those guys grow as players and that's on and off the ice."
"[I'm] trying to lead by example, do the right things, make sure I'm always working hard," said Wayne Simmonds. "We got a lot of young guys, we've done a good job playing hard. For us and for myself, it's continuing on doing the same thing."
Mackenzie Blackwood will start his first game since the Devils played Nashville on January 30th. Devils Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine has split more time between his two goalies - Blackwood and Louis Domingue.
"[Blackwood] has been solid for us, competing in net. The one area where he can improve is the puck play," said Nasreddine. "[He's] very coachable, he knows that he has to get better, and we'll see how he does tonight."
With Nico Hischier out, Jack Hughes will center the top line. Devils Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine wants the rookie to focus on creating offense in this role.
"For Jack, he gotta find a way to create offense, that's what we need from him, especially with Nico out," said Nasreddine. "When we look at the end of the game, what has he created, that's how we measure how he played that night. Last game, I thought he was really good on the power play. We would like to see a little bit more 5-on-5."
Miles Wood will remain with Wayne Simmonds and Pavel Zacha on the third line. Although the lines are different, Simmonds said the players know their roles.
"Not much ever really changes as a player, no matter the situation you get put in," said Simmonds during the optional morning skate. "You gotta stay true to yourself and you gotta play the game the way you've always played."
-- Catherine Bogart, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (18-24-10) at FLYERS (29-17-7)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+ 2
Tonight's game is the third of four meetings between the two teams this season.
Flyers won 4-3 in a shootout on November 1 at Prudential Center and won 4-0 at Wells Fargo on October 9.
Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri were the only two Devils with more than one point against Philly this season. Hall had one goal and one assist and Palmieri had two helpers.
Sean Couturier. Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny each had three points to lead the way for the Flyers with Couturier's two goals against the Devils tops on the club.
Devils team scope:
The Devils have come back from the all-star break playing four straight games in overtime. They defeated Ottawa 4-3 in a shootout but then lost their last three -- two in a shootout and one in overtime.
Kyle Palmieri had two goals last game and is now tied with Blake Coleman for the team lead with 19 goals. Both players are on pace for over 31 goals which would be a career high for each.
Palmieri also leads the Devils with 35 points in 48 games.
Flyers team scope:
The Flyers sit in the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. They're also one point back of the Islanders and two behind the Columbus Blue Jackets as the division tightens up.
Sean Couturier leads the Flyers with 46 points in 53 games (13 goals, 33 assists) while Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes share the team lead with 17 goals.
By the Numbers:
The Flyers are 18-4-4 at home and 11-13-3 on the road which oddly enough parallels that of their building mates (and HBSE owned) Philadelphia 76ers who are 22-2 at home and 9-18 on the road.
Flyers are 12-1-2 when leading after one this season and 19-0-2 when leading after two. Flyers are also 8-0-1 when tied after two so a combined 27-0-3 when leading or tied after 40 minutes which shows the importance of a fast start for the Devils tonight.
Philadelphia is 9-2-4 against its own division (Metropolitan). Devils are 5-8-2.
Devils -Sami Vatanen (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Nico Hischier (undisclosed) is day-to-day
Flyers - Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) is on IR; Samuel Morin (torn right ACL) is on IR; Oskar Lindholm (illness) is on IR; Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) is day-to-day; Carter Hart (strained abdominal) is day-to-day