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Atlantic showdown features Devils hosting Flyers

by Mike G. Morreale
FLYERS (27-14-4) at DEVILS (26-18-2)


Last 10:
Philadelphia 6-4-0; New Jersey 6-3-1

Season series:
It's the third of six meetings this season and the second at Prudential Center. Adam Henrique, Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk combined for two goals and three assists as the Devils scored a 4-3 victory in Philadelphia on Nov. 3. In the series opener, the Flyers earned a 3-0 victory behind Ilya Bryzgalov's 20 saves.

Big story:
Even before the Devils would battle the Boston Bruins and ultimately suffer their first loss in four games on Thursday, the team was already down a defenseman. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello informed the media after the game that Henrik Tallinder would be out 6-8 weeks with acute thrombophlebitis (blood clot) of the lower left leg. Devils coach Peter DeBoer moved Bryce Salvador with Mark Fayne in Tallinder's absence, while rookie Adam Larsson skated with Matt Taormina. Tallinder is fourth on the team in average ice time (21:18).

"It's tough," DeBoer told the media afterward. "It's a war of attrition in this League and we've been dealing with it. You've got to just keep moving forward."

"That's a big loss for us," goalie Martin Brodeur said. "He's a guy that plays a lot of minutes and is a big body in front of me, in front of the team. It's unfortunate not just for the team, but for himself also. He's an important player on our team and it's kind of a freak kind of thing."

Team Scope:

Prior to Thursday's 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders, the Flyers had won 23 of the last 24 contests against their New York foe dating back to March of 2008. The Islanders won in Philadelphia for the first time since April 7, 2007. The Flyers had won three of their last four prior to losing to the Islanders, with games coming up against the Devils on Saturday and Bruins on Sunday. The team is currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of No. 7 New Jersey and three points behind No. 2 Boston.

Adam Henrique returned to his spot at center on the top line between Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk on Thursday in the 4-1 loss to the Bruins. Dainius Zubrus was also reunited on a line with Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias, who earned an assist in the loss to extend his point-scoring streak to seven straight (4 goals, 7 assists). The veteran Devil also has 25 points in his last 21 games. Brodeur, who was making his third straight start, yielded three goals in the opening 7:45 of a four-goal third period for Boston.

Who's hot: Flyers rookie forward Sean Couturier notched an assist in the loss to the Islanders on Thursday to extend his point-scoring streak to six games. He has 5 goals and 2 assists over that span.

Injury report: Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk (concussion) is out. Forward Zac Rinaldo has resumed skating with the team after sitting out Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Wild with an upper-body injury. … In addition to Tallinder, the Devils are without forward Travis Zajac (Achilles) and defenseman Andy Greene (foot). Greene is skating again and could return shortly after the All-Star break.

Stat pack:
Flyers rookie forward Matt Read scored his 14th goal of the season in Thursday's loss to the Islanders to take over the rookie scoring lead in that category. Henrique and Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each have 13 goals.

Puck drop: Flyers All-Star center Claude Giroux hasn't scored a goal since the Winter Classic -- a span of eight games. His last goal indoors came Dec. 21 against the Dallas Stars. Giroux still leads the team in assists (32) and points (50).

"Well, he is having a great year," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said of Giroux. "He's putting a lot of pressure on himself in every area of his game. It is not about him. He should realize it is about the team. He is one of the better players in the League and I have seen this so many times. You can't play 82 games and be the best player out there every game. You're going to have ups and downs. He's going to be fine. He is maybe just putting too much pressure on himself, but he will be fine."

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