By Jack Ryan
The Flyers have only played 11 games, but tonight’s game at Metro Division rival the Jersey Devils can be considered a re-set.
Both teams are coming off discouraging losses. The Devils squandered a two-goal lead in the third period Wednesday night and fell to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning 7-6 in overtime. The Flyers last played Tuesday, when they were routed by the host Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1.
The Flyers probably would have been booed if they were home Tuesday night. However, first-year coach Alain Vigneault struck a more supportive tone after the team absorbed its most lopsided loss since a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 9, 2018.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to push the reset button here,” Vigneault told reporters. “Our leaders have to lead by their play on the ice. We’re going to go home, reset and get ready for the next game.”
After New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider gave up the seven goals on just 23 shots Wednesday, the Devils are likely to turn back to nominal starter Mackenzie Blackwood on Friday night.
Blackwood took the defeat in his most recent start Oct. 25, when he stopped 12 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. It was the third straight start for Blackwood, who has been in net for both of New Jersey’s wins this season.
The Flyers’ Carter Hart (above), who fell into a timeshare with Brian Elliott after losing four straight starts (0-3-1) from Oct. 12-27, is likely to get the start after Elliott gave up the first six goals over the first two periods against the Penguins.
Hart relieved Elliott on Tuesday and stopped eight of nine shots in the third period. He hasn’t won since stopping all 25 shots he faced against the Devils in a 4-0 victory on Oct. 9.
In addition to allowing seven goals the last time they took the ice, the Devils and Flyers are the two most recent NHL teams to score six goals in a defeat. Philly fell to the Maple Leafs 7-6 on March 15 in Toronto.
For the Devils, the Wednesday loss marked the first time in almost 30 years — since a 9-6 loss to the Washington Capitals on Jan. 16, 1990 — that they scored at least six goals in defeat.
The Devils’ slow start — they have seven points, tied for the fewest in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators — and struggles hanging on to the lead Wednesday resulted in boos filling their home arena.
“We’re kind of battling our own fans at this point,” Devils left winger Taylor Hall told reporters afterward. “It’s a tie game and we’re getting booed. That’s a tough environment to play in sometimes, especially when you’re at home. I know when we’re playing somewhere and their fans start booing, it’s a fun environment for the away team to play in.”