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January 03, 2015

Inside the Flyers' 5-2 loss to the Devils

The Flyers ended their eight-game road trip with five straight losses

Flyers NHL

The Flyers 8-game road trip came to a conclusion Friday night against the Devils. They came into the finale needing a win to break even on the road and snap their four-game losing streak, but an old friend/enemy* had other plans.

*I think there's a word for that, but I'm not using it.

Here are some observations from the Flyers' 5-2 loss to the Devils.

1. Giroux sits

After having his heal cut open by a skate in Friday's game against the Hurricanes, Flyers captain Claude Giroux was out of the lineup Saturday vs. the Devils, snapping his streak of 168 consecutive games played.

Here's a look at how coach Craig Berube shuffled the lines with Giroux sidelined:

Raffl | B. Schenn | Voracek

Read | Bellemare | Simmonds

VandeVelde | Couturier | Lecavalier

Rinaldo | Umberger | L. Schenn (7th D-man)

In net, Ray Emery got the start after Steve Mason played Friday night in Raleigh, but it wasn't a full night off for Mason. More on that later.

2. Why watch UFC 182?

Sure, the biggest UFC fight of the year (UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier) was also Saturday night, but you didn't have to buck up for the pay-per-view to watch some live fights. The long-time rivals wasted no time, as both sides came out swinging. Here's a look at the fight card from the game:

Zac Rinaldo vs. Jordin Tootoo

Then 20 seconds later...

Michael Raffl vs. Tom Sestito

Wayne Simmonds vs. Mark Fraser

Brayden Schenn vs. Tom Sestito

Sestito should have learned his lesson the first time, but Schenn gave him the same treatment he got from Raffl, a flurry of rights and a trip to the ice.

3. How old is Jagr?

Forty two. Jaromir Jagr is 42 years old* and scored a hat trick against the Flyers, passing Gordie Howe as the oldest NHL player to do so. Hell, it only took him half the game to score all three. 

Jagr was drafted in 1990. Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Michael Del Zotto, and Scott Laughton were all born after he was drafted. Coincidentally, Jake Voracek was born in Jagr’s hometown of Kladno, Czech Republic, the year before Jagr was drafted. He scored a pair of first-period goals, including the Devils' first of the night, and added his third with 7:28 left in the second.

That being said, Jagr hasn't been having a great season. Coming into Saturday's game, the NHL '94 legend had just 22 points (6 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games this season with a +/- of -14.

*Jagr will turn 43 next month.

4. Turnovers cost Flyers early…again

Jagr’s aforementioned goal came off a bad giveaway behind the net by Ray Emery. The Flyers, who entered with a 4-15-4 record when giving up the game’s first goal, found themselves behind early for the second night in a row. Then it got bad.

Patrik Elias scored on a power play (R.J. Umberger, high sticking) a few minutes later, followed by Jagr, whose second goal of the night came with just four seconds remaining in the first period, and probably ruined Steve Mason's night.

5. Emery doesn't last

Remember how I said it wouldn't be a total night off for Mason? That's because after Jagr scored to put the Devils up 3-0 late in the first, Emery wouldn't return for the second period after allowing three goals on 10 shots in the first 20 minutes.

Mason didn't fair much better in the second, allowing a pair of goals on just seven shots.

6. Cory Schneider is one lucky guy

Just a night removed from a scary incident involving Giroux and a rogue skate blade, Devils goalie Cory Schneider came close to suffering a much worse injury. After colliding with Voracek, Schneider's mask came dislodged. At the same time, Voracek was upended, causing his skate to go airborne, and it came down right on top of Schneider's suddenly exposed face. Luckily for the goaltender, it was the heel of Voracek's skate that hit him on the head, and not the blade.

7. Home, sweet home

The Flyers are currently on riding a five-game losing streak. However, their eight-game road trip has come to an end, and they'll be back at the Wells Fargo Center soon, where they'll play five of their next six games. They're 8-5-3 at home, which is outstanding when you consider they're just 6-12-4 on the road.