Flyers preview: Top picks Patrick, Hischier, finally face off

NHL: JUN 23 NHL Draft
New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (left), Flyers center Nolan Patrick (right), and Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen (center) pose after being selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft. Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire

Flyers (19-15-8) @ Devils (22-11-8)

WHEN: 7:00 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Prudential Center

BROADCAST & STREAMING: TV– NBCSP; radio–97.5 FM.

SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Twitter, @BroadStBull @samdonnellon

KEY PLAYERS

All eyes will be on Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick and Devils rookie Nico Hischier in their first-ever matchup as professionals. The top two picks of last year’s amateur draft have experienced extremely opposite starts to their careers. Hischier has eight goals and 18 assists and is second on the Devils in scoring. Patrick, coming off extensive core muscle surgery and sidelined for nine games with a concussion earlier this season, has two goals and six assists. New Jersey’s Taylor Hall has 42 points in 39 games and is scoring at a 1.08 points-per-game pace. The left wing was selected to play in the all-star game for the third straight year: 2016 (2016 Pacific Division with Edmonton and 2017 Metropolitan Division with New Jersey). Travis Zajac has three goals and two assists over his last four games, including a two-goal game against the Islanders in last Sunday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Islanders. Goaltender Cory Schneider is 17-8-6 this season. Traded to the Devils in November, defenseman Sami Vatanen tied his career-high with points in four consecutive games, 1G-3A, from Dec. 27-Jan. 2. It was the first time in his Devils’ career collecting points in four straight contests. He did so on four other occasions as an Anaheim Duck.

THINGS TO KNOW

Both teams are coming off the league-mandated bye. The Devils are 0-2-3 in their last five games (four on the road) while the Flyers are 4-1. One reason the Devils are ahead of the Flyers by six points in the standings? They are 11-2-8 in one goal games. The Flyers are 5-5-8. The Devils are also 3-4 in shootouts while the Flyers have lost all three they have been involved in. Jersey is also eighth in the NHL in penalty kill (83.3 percent) while the Flyers are 28th (75 percent). The Devils are tied for second in the NHL with 7 SHG scored, while the Flyers are among three teams who have surrendered six — the fourth most in the NHL.

HEAD TO HEAD 

This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. All four of those games will come inside of the next month: Jan. 20 in Philly, Feb. 1 in Newark, Feb. 13 back in Philly. Including playoffs, the Flyers are 127-123-18 all time against the Devils, but are 51-74-8 on the road. 

UPCOMING GAMES

Tuesday (Jan 16): 7 p.m. @New York Rangers

Thursday (Jan 18): 7 p.m. Toronto

Saturday (Jan 20): 1 p.m. New Jersey

Sunday (Jan 21): 12:30 p.m. @Washington