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Devils hope to limit shots from surging Flyers

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have been successful by limiting the number of shots taken by the opposition each and every game. Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube is a firm believer that offense comes from getting to the net and generating shots.

Something will have to give on Tuesday when the Devils play host to the Flyers in a Metropolitan Division contest at Prudential Center.

The Devils, who have lost two straight, have allowed a League-low 24.8 shots-per-game this season. The biggest issue facing Devils coach Peter DeBoer has been scoring as the team ranks 26th at 2.35 goals per game.

As is the case each game with Berube in charge, the Flyers will look to reach the 30-shot mark against the Devils. The Flyers, 20-10-4 since beginning the season 1-7-0, are 13-8-1 when they generate 30 or more shots in a game. The team averages 29.7 shots, which ranks 17th in the League.

Berube's systematic approach has seemingly paid off for the Flyers. Claude Giroux has 29 points in 27 games since Nov. 9 and wings Wayne Simmonds (22 points) and Jake Voracek (23 points) also have prospered. Additionally, the Flyers have received at least one goal from a defenseman in nine of their past 12 games (8-3-1).

DeBoer isn't surprised with Philadelphia's recent turnaround.

"Their big guys weren't scoring early in the year and their big guys are bringing it now," DeBoer said. "You look at the games. [Claude] Giroux, [Scott] Hartnell, [Jakub] Voracek, [Wayne] Simmonds and [Mark] Streit are guys who had slow starts. It sounds cliché, but this is a League where your best players have to be your best players in order to win. If they're not, you're going to have a hard time.

"We're in the same boat. In our loss to Buffalo [on Saturday], our best players weren't our best players and we didn't win."

DeBoer also informed the media that the upper-body injury sustained by forward Patrik Elias is more serious than originally suspected. There is no timetable for his return.

"Not many teams have a replacement for a guy like [Elias]," DeBoer said. "He's a Hall of Fame player, potentially. We'll have to do it by committee and find a way. I thought [Mike] Sislo had a good game against Buffalo. He showed speed, drew some penalties, created some offense. We've got to do it by committee with Patrik out."

The Flyers expect wing Michael Raffl to return to the lineup against the Devils. The 25-year-old, who missed one game with a concussion, practiced at the team's facility in Voorhees on Monday and was present for the morning skate at Prudential Center on Tuesday. Raffl has two goals and 11 points in 29 games.

Raffl, a free-agent signing by the team in the offseason, also will represent Austria in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Matt Read, who missed the game Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes with an apparent upper-body injury, is out. Read has 10 goals and 19 points in 39 games. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson (left knee sprain) practiced and could return for the game Sunday at the New York Rangers. Gustafsson was injured Dec. 21 during a 6-3 loss in Columbus.

Here are the projected lineups:


Steve Downie - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Scott Hartnell - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Vincent Lecavalier

Michael Raffl - Chris VandeVeldeAdam Hall

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Luke Schenn - Andrej Meszaros

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Hal Gill, Jay Rosehill

Injured: Erik Gustafsson (sprained left knee), Matt Read (upper body)


Dainius ZubrusTravis ZajacJaromir Jagr

Ryane CloweAdam HenriqueMichael Ryder

Ryan CarterStephen GiontaSteve Bernier

Reid BoucherAndrei LoktionovMike Sislo

Andy GreeneMark Fayne

Marek ZidlickyJon Merrill

Anton VolchenkovBryce Salvador

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Jacob Josefson, Cam Janssen, Eric Gelinas

Injured: Patrik Elias (upper body), Damien Brunner (knee), Adam Larsson (lower body), Peter Harrold (broken foot)

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