FLYERS (1-0-0) at DEVILS (0-0-0)
Season series -- The Devils went 3-2-1 against the Flyers last season behind the scoring of Zach Parise, who finished with 3 goals and 8 points. The Flyers were led by Jeff Carter, who had 4 goals and 6 points in the six meetings.
Big Story -- It'll be another historic night for Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who'll be making his 15th consecutive opening-night start. Brodeur, who'll also be appearing in his 1,000th regular-season game, will surpass Terry Sawchuk and Patrick Roy, who made 14 straight opening-night starts during their Hall of Fame careers. Brodeur is 9-3-2 with a 1.88 goals-against average and .928 save percentage on opening night. The Flyers, meanwhile, come off a 2-0 win at Carolina in their season opener Friday. Ray Emery made his Philadelphia debut with a 27-save shutout.
Flyers -- A healthy Daniel Briere, who missed 53 games to injury in 2008-09, will go a long way in solidifying the offensive depth chart for Philadelphia. Defensively, the hard-hitting Chris Pronger was acquired in the offseason to add some muscle and flair along the blue line and goalie Ray Emery returns to the NHL following a one-year hiatus in Europe. Forward James van Riemsdyk, the second overall pick behind Patrick Kane in 2007, will be making his professional debut in hometown New Jersey. The 20-year-old wing, who added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason and could bolster the Flyers power-play, is from Middletown, N.J.
"Sometimes in sports, the future is now," Flyers chairman Ed Snider said. "And we didn't want to wait too long. Our goal every single year is to win the Stanley Cup and this is no different. But you can't put that burden on one guy (Chris Pronger). People say this is the piece that's going to do it, but it's unfair to him, totally unfair."
Devils -- Following a first-round ouster from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Devils enter the 2009-10 campaign with a new coach (Jacques Lemaire), new backup goalie (Yann Danis) and some new skaters (defenseman Cory Murphy and forwards Ilkka Pikkarainen and Rob Niedermayer). Brodeur played 10 games last season before his biceps injury and returned to appear in 21 more during the regular season -- posting a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage while setting the NHL's all-time wins record (557) for goalies. While Lemaire will obviously change a few areas by incorporating his own unique style, expect the Zach Parise-Jamie Langenbrunner-Travis Zajac line to remain intact. The trio combined for 94 goals and 225 points last season.
"This team had a great season last year," Lemaire said. "They must've done something good. I want to keep that. What they did good last year we don't want to change. We'll look where they can improve."
Who's Hot -- Look for Devils wing Zach Parise, who recorded career highs with 45 goals and 94 points last season, to pick up where he left off. Expect wing David Clarkson to average a lot more than the 12:03 of ice time he had last season when he notched a career-high 17 goals. Clarkson was on a line with Niedermayer at center and Matt Halischuk at left wing during Friday's practice. The Flyers will rely on productive centers Mike Richards (30 goals, 50 assists in 2008-09) and Jeff Carter (46 goals, 38 assists), who each scored Friday against Carolina, and a few bone-jarring hits from defenseman Chris Pronger.
Injury Report -- Devils left wing Patrik Elias was not ready for the start of training camp after undergoing hip and groin surgery in June and could be sidelined up to six more weeks. Left wing Jay Pandolfo is questionable with a stiff back. For the Flyers, backup goalie Brian Boucher will be out 7-to-10 days with a lower body injury incurred in a preseason game against the Devils on Sep. 26. In the meantime, Johan Backlund, who spent the previous three seasons with Timra in the Swedish Elite League, will serve as Ray Emery's backup.
Stat Pack -- Brodeur needs two shutouts to tie Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103. For the record, he has two opening-night shutouts in his career -- against Florida in 1995 and Carolina in 2006. After winning the first two meetings against the Devils last season, the Flyers dropped three straight to their Atlantic Division rivals before winning the sixth and final meeting. Three of the six games were decided by a score of 3-2 -- all going past regulation play.
Puck Drop -- Both teams might be a little sluggish at the outset but for different reasons. The Flyers will be playing their second game in two days after battling the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Friday while the Devils are playing their season opener. It won't require much arm-pulling, however, before both teams begin "hitting" it hard.
--Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com