Flyers at Devils Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/13/2013
Martin Brodeur may be 40 years old, but it's pretty evident he's still the most indispensible player on the reigning Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils. Brodeur last took the ice for the Devils on Feb. 21 and beat the Capitals 3-2. That win improved the Devils to 10-3-4 (24 points), among the best in the East, and had Brodeur at 8-2-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
However, Brodeur has not played since due to a back injury, and it doesn't appear he'll be back anytime soon. He did skate Tuesday morning for the first time since Feb. 24 when he pulled himself out of pregame warm-ups with a sore back, but Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said there still is no timetable for him to return. Since Brodeur has gone down, backup Johan Hedberg has started every game, and it hasn't gone well as New Jersey is 2-6-1. Overall, Hedberg is 4-7-2 this season with a 2.97 GAA and .879 save percentage. Those numbers aren't going to get a team into the playoffs, and New Jersey has sunk to No. 7 in the East entering play Tuesday.
The Flyers, meanwhile, would love to be No. 7. They are currently No. 10 in the conference with 25 points and have been one of the NHL's biggest disappointments heading into Wednesday's game, their final visit to Jersey this season and the first of a home-and-home.
Flyers at Devils Betting Story Lines
New Jersey has won two of its past three, both 3-2 in a shootout. But that was sandwiched around an ugly Hedberg start in a 6-3 loss at Carolina on Saturday. Typically streaky sniper Ilya Kovalchuk has solid numbers with nine goals and 14 assists but has found the net just once in the past eight games, and that was in the loss to the Hurricanes. Sunday's win over the Jets was the first game in the past nine that New Jersey didn't give up the first goal, although it did blow a two-goal lead. It marked the first time the Devils had a two-goal lead in any game since a win over the Flyers on Feb. 15, a span of 11 games.
The Flyers ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over lousy Buffalo on Sunday. Claude Giroux, Simon Gagne and Max Talbot all scored, and struggling Ilya Bryzgalov, who has started 11 straight games, stopped 18 shots. He could be wearing down as Bryzgalov has played more minutes (1,409:58) than any player in the NHL this season. His numbers have jumped from a 2.20 goals-against average to 2.77 and .923 save percentage to .899 in the past month. Philly is likely regretting trading former Bryzgalov backup Sergei Bobrovsky to the Blue Jackets last June for backups as he has emerged as one of the league's better netminders with the Jackets.
Another issue for Philadelphia is the struggles of top winger Scott Hartnell. He missed a month with a foot injury and has just three points and is minus-2 in eight games since returning. Hartnell hasn't had a point in the past five. He had 37 goals and 30 assists a season ago.
In this lockout-shortened season, this is almost a make-or-break home-and-home for Philly. Not only is it 10th in the East but already has played more games than any other team -- just 21 remain for the Flyers. The No. 8 Rangers, who are three points ahead of the Flyers, have three games in hand on Philadelphia entering Tuesday's matchup. New Jersey has one game in hand and would clinch the season series with a win Wednesday for a potential tiebreaker.
The Devils have already defeated the Flyers twice in two meetings this season. They shut out Philadelphia, 3-0, the opening week of the season behind Brodeur. New Jersey rallied from a two-goal deficit in a 5-3 win on Feb. 15.
Flyers at Devils NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BookMaker, New Jersey has been opened at -121 and Philly +110 with the total at 5.5. Philadelphia is 13-13-1 “over/under” (7-6-1 on the road) and has lost three straight as an underdog. New Jersey is 13-11-2 O/U (6-6-1 at home) and has lost five of its past eight as a favorite.
The Flyers are 6-1 in their past seven Wednesday games. Philadelphia has won just three of its past 13 games against Atlantic Division foes. The Devils are 6-0 in their last six games when their opponent allows two goals or less in their previous game. New Jersey is 5-0 in its past five playing on two days of rest. It is 1-5 in its past six against teams with a losing record. The over is 6-1 in Philly's past seven after a win. The over is 4-0 in New Jersey's past four after a win. New Jersey has won the past six meetings.
Flyers at Devils Picks and Betting Predictions
The Flyers lead the league in regulation road losses with 10 in 14 games and have lost their last two away games by a combined score of 7-2. New Jersey has been a solid 8-3-2 at the Prudential Center and has won two straight there.
I don't trust either goaltender much -- it no doubt will be Hedberg and Bryzgalov again. Home teams tend to get the calls in hockey just like any sport, and the Flyers are the most penalized team in the NHL. New Jersey is just 17th on the power play, however. I think the more talented Flyers are better value at their price, and that they will be motivated to beat New Jersey for the first time since taking Game 1 of the 2012 conference semifinals. Take Philly and the over.
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