This is the first pivotal game of the year. The one I pointed to on the schedule when it came out and said, “That game is going to speak volumes for the team early in the season.”
The Devils come in 3-3 after winning last night in Pittsburgh. The Devils are six games into a season starting nine game road trip due to the fact that their new arena won’t be available until the end of the month. The Devils Power play is clicking at better than 25% but their Penalty Kill is stumbling along giving up a goal almost once in every three chances. Most notably, Martin Brodeur is 2-3 having won last night against the Penguins. His GAA is 3.41 and Save% is .876, you have to know that’s not acceptable to the future HOF goalie. There are rumours he may get the night off and the Flyers will face Kevin Weekes. We’ll see.
The Devils can be had here. They’ve won two straight after getting off to a 1-3 start and are playing the second game of a back to back. After this, they sort of go home with their next two games against their New York rivals on the Island and at MSG. A good start by the Flyers could diminish their will to win.
The Flyers need this game for their sense of confidence. They took two of three on the road against clubs that look to be struggling out of the gate. In the midst of a four game home stand before hitting the road again, they played well against the Islanders on opening night then struggled in the first versus the Thrashers before stealing their heart with three quick second period goals. The first line has yet to be heard from at home and you have to figure they have a break out game coming. With some hard work I expect that game to be tonight.
It’s important for the Flyers to pick up these points early in the season, especially against teams that look to be in that pack of six or seven vying for the last four playoff spots at the end of the season. It’s the Flyers second challenge of the season. The first was to get off to a good start and they’ve accomplished that, now they have to prove they can compete in their conference before climbing the preface and taking on the top teams in Ottawa, Pittsburgh and the Rangers. Two of those teams are struggling right now while the Flyers seem to be rolling. Tonight will go a long way toward telling us if the Flyers are ready to climb the mountain.