It’s rivalry night in the NHL as the New Jersey Devils take on the Philadelphia Flyers at home. Neither of these teams have had much success in the past week(s) and a win tonight would help out each team tremendously.
In my opinion this game will come down to goaltending. Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start for the Flyers and Johan Hedberg is expected to start for the Devils. Neither of these guys have been on top of their game this season, and Bryzgalov has started 26 of 28 games.
If Bryzgalov can out play Hedberg tonight, the Flyers will win and vice versa for the Devils. I’ve gotten into heated arguments with many Flyers fans about Bryzaglov and although the defense is shaky, that’s still no excuse for Bryzgalov. He is supposed to be an “elite” goaltender and he currently makes over $5M per season. With that being said, he shouldn’t be allowing goals just because the defense is a mess.
He single handedly blew the game for the Flyers last week in New York, again against Pittsburgh and in Boston. He almost blew the game against Buffalo on Sunday, but Brayden Schenn saved the day with his goal line pucking saving sweep check.
Bryz’s save percentage is down from last season but no far off with a .899 – last season he finished with a .900. His lowest save percentage since 2009.
As for Hedberg his numbers are atrocious this season. .879 save percentage in 13 games with 2.97 goals against average. Before Martin Brodeur went to IR Hedberg was on top of his game when he had to fill in for Brodeur. I would know, I had him on my fantasy team as I smiled big every night he started. Since then though, he has been a complete mess as each opposing goaltender he faces has out played him.
And playing against the high scoring Flyers won’t make it any easier for Hedberg. He has a .898 save percentage followed by 3.07 goals against average in his career vs Philly.
Good news for the Devils though is Ilya Kovalchuk has four points in the season series and 13 in his last seven match-ups with the Flyers. Kovalchuk has two goals and three assists during an overall four-game point streak.
Last game the Devils defeated the Flyers while Bryzgalov allowed 4 goals on 18 shots.
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