The Flyers will try to reverse an early-season trend — too many shots and goals allowed — when they travel up the New Jersey Turnpike and meet the Devils in Newark on Tuesday night.
Here are five things to know about the 7 p.m. matchup (NBCSP) against the Devils, who are off to a surprising 3-1-1 start.
1. Can the Flyers tighten their defense?
The Flyers (3-2-1) have allowed a combined 10 goals in their last two games, and they are giving Brian Elliott his second start of the season. Carter Hart, who erupted after Saturday’s 6-1 loss in Boston, will get a rest.
Slow starts have been the norm for Philly, which has been outshot 74-42 in the first period and 213-142 overall. On average, they have been outshot, 35.5-23.7, per game. Not good.
Elliott (1.31 GAA, .964 save percentage) is scheduled to face Scott Wedgewood (2.00, .937). Both goalies are coming off shutouts. Elliott made 40 saves in a 3-0 win over Buffalo, and Wedgewood had 28 stops in a 2-0 victory over the Islanders.
The Flyers are spending too much time in their own zone, struggling on the penalty kill, and allowing the third-most shots per game in the NHL. Down the other end, they have the lowest number of shots per game in the 31-team league.
New Jersey is allowing the second-most shots (35.6 per game) and is 24th in shots taken (27.2 per game).
2. Trying to contain WHO?
You may not have heard of Devils defenseman Ty Smith, but the 20-year-old rookie is making a name for himself. He has become one of six defensemen in NHL history to start their career with points in five straight games.
Selected by New Jersey in the first round (17th overall) of the 2017 draft, Smith has a goal, five assists, and a plus-5 rating.
In the Western Hockey League last season, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder had 59 points, including 19 goals, in 46 games for Spokane.
3. Will Giroux make his milestone night memorable?
It would be fitting if Claude Giroux had a memorable game on a night when he will pass Bobby Clarke and become the longest-tenured captain (611 games) in franchise history.
Giroux, who said he has modeled his captaincy after former teammate Mike Richards, is looking for his first goal of the season. He has 11 goals and 46 points in 51 career games against New Jersey.
4. Hischier-Patrick rivalry? Some other time.
New Jersey’s Nico Hischier and the Flyers’ Nolan Patrick will always be linked, always be compared. The centers were drafted Nos. 1-2, respectively, in 2017, and there was a great debate as to which player was better.
Hischier, 22, has missed all five of the Devils’ games with a leg injury and will not play Tuesday. That means Patrick, who missed all of last season because of a migraine disorder, will get the spotlight for the Class of 2017.
Patrick, 22, has four points in six games this year. His career numbers: 65 points (27 goals, 38 assists) in 151 games. Hischier’s career numbers: 135 points (51 goals, 84 assists) in 209 games.
In addition to Hischier, the Devils are without three players who are under the league’s COVID-19 protocol: goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, defenseman Sami Vatanen, and forward Jesper Bratt.
5. Devils will see a Ghost
After contracting the coronavirus and missing the first six games, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere will make his season debut Tuesday. He will be Ivan Provorov’s third partner in seven games.
Erik Gustafsson will be a healthy scratch. For those curious, left winger Samuel Morin will not play, either.
Gostisbehere had a strong training camp before being diagnosed with COVID-19, and, though he is known for his offense, he will try to help stabilize a defense that has struggled all season.