The Time: 3:00 PM EDT
The Broadcast: TV - NBC, CBC; Radio - 1130 AM WBBR
The Series Preview: Here's the big series preview breaking down the forwards, defensemen, goaltenders, and other observations between the two teams. Therefore, this post is just a short one for all of the more recent information and thoughts heading into this game.
The Game Specific Goal: Do not get overly physical. Based on this post by Rich Chere at NJ.com, the Devils players seem to understand that this series will get nasty at times. That's fair, it's a rivalry and it's the postseason. However, the players have to stop talking about not taking penalties that hurt them and actually not take penalties. If the Devils can avoid the temptation to bang to hang with the Flyers - and no, the Devils would be foolish to try and match the Flyers in physical play - then that will help them in their cause in Game 1 today.
For an opposition's perspective, please visit Broad Street Hockey. For a few more thoughts on today's game, please continue on after the jump.
As brought up in the series preview, Peter DeBoer has shifted his forward lines around in Saturday's practice according to this report by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice. More specifically, he's shifted left wingers. Zach Parise lined up with Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus; Alexei Ponikarovsky moved up to take Parise's spot alongside Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk; and Petr Sykora got placed with Adam Henrique and David Clarkson. At least the fourths are still together. I think this move is made to strengthen the top six against what will be rather tough match-ups against the Giroux and Briere lines. It's not like Sykora was doing much of anything; and Elias could benefit the team's - and the league's - most prolific shooter in the playoffs on offense. Plus, Parise should strengthen the line's defense, which will help dearly as they could draw the beast that is Claude Giroux.
As far as health goes, there aren't any changes in the lineup. Both Bryce Salvador, who took a vicious slash on his hand from Kris Versteeg in overtime of Game 7, and Kovalchuk, thought to have something wrong with him, practiced on Saturday and are in the lineup. I suppose whatever they have is minor, otherwise, they would've been told to rest instead of practicing for over an hour. It's not like the Devils don't have anyone to replace them if they are significantly injured; not that the replacements are all that desirable. When Gulitti asked Lou about injuries on Friday, the answer is status quo.
What of the Flyers? Well, according to this tweet by Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Matt Read was moved to wing on a line with center Brayden Schenn and winger Wayne Simmonds while Jakub Voracek and James van Reimsdyk were both moved up to be centered by Danny Briere. Philadelphia has incredible depth at forward so they can make this move and be a threat, revert to their original lines (Briere with Simmonds and Schenn; Read with van Reimsdyk and Voracek) and be a threat, or do something else entirely and a be a threat. Oh, the forward line matching is a sore sight on paper.
Carchidi also tweeted that Andrej Meszaros and Niklas Grossman were also at practice. He doesn't think Meazaros will return just yet; but he does think Grossman should be in for today's game. Gulitti wrote the same about Grossman at the end of this post at Fire & Ice, though Gulitti notes that he has yet to be medically cleared to play. I suspect he will be in time for the game if he's expected by those following the team. The return of Grossman should help out their defense if only for fewer minutes for Pavel Kubina or Andreas Lilja. That reminds me, it would be very good for the Devils to pick on the defensive depth of Philly.
One final thought: The Devils need to either win this game or the next one to have a real chance at winning in this series. Like in the first round with Florida, the Devils need to take home ice away. Will it happen today? Possibly - it is the playoffs, after all. Anything can happen. Let's hope for anything but the expected result.
The puck is going to finally drop for this series later this afternoon. What are your feelings for the upcoming Game 1 in Philly? Are you excited in anticipation? Are you nervous as to what could happen? Are you confident the Devils can get a result today? Are you just content that the team is where they are in the postseason? Are you feeling a little bit of all of these feelings, or something else entirely? Please share them in the comments as well as your other thoughts about this game. Thank you for reading. Go Devils.