Flyers still alive ahead of clash with Devils

The Philadelphia Flyers still have a snowball's chance of making the Stanley Cup playoffs, and until it completely melts they're going to keep believing it can happen.

The New Jersey Devils are hoping their next big win comes in the 2017 NHL draft lottery.

On Saturday night, the Flyers (37-32-8, 82 points) will try to keep their playoff hopes alive when they host the Devils (27-36-14, 68 points), who own the third-worst record in the NHL behind the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes.

Despite three straight wins, the Flyers remain six points behind the Boston Bruins (88 points) with five games to play. But they are also two points behind the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes and three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We know we could be in a better position," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "That's on us, but we can't control what the other teams are going to do. We can only control our games and we've got to hope for some help, but at the end of the day we have to play our game."

There is an underlying level of intrigue to Saturday night's game because of this: Flyers goaltender Steve Mason, who has won four straight games, has never beaten the Devils in his nine-year NHL career. Never, as in 0-9-0 with a 3.93 GAA and an .852 save percentage. The Devils are the only NHL team Mason has never beaten in his career.

That makes Saturday night's goaltending decision a difficult one for Flyers coach Dave Hakstol.

The Devils, on the other hand, wish they could play the Flyers every night. They are 3-0 against them this season, outscoring Philadelphia 14-3 in those games.

Since Keith Kinkaid got the start in Brooklyn on Friday night, Cory Schneider (20-24-11, 2.71 GAA, .911 SP) is expected to start for the Devils, who are coming off Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Islanders and are 7-5-4 in the second game of back to back sets this season.

The Devils, who will watch the playoffs from afar for the fifth-straight spring, have lost nine straight regulation games on the road.

"It's important that you finish the season well," Devils captain Andy Greene told the Bergen Record. "Obviously, we're not in the playoffs. We want to build momentum going into next season. We can't limp in here and just fade off. It's important individually and as a team that we all try to build off something for the summer and then coming into next year."

The Devils got their first look at defenseman Michael Kapla, 22, who signed as an undrafted free agent out of UMass-Lowell on Tuesday. Kapla was paired with veteran blue liner Ben Lovejoy.

The Flyers signed their own college free agent on Friday when Mike Vecchione of Union College agreed to a one-year deal, joining former college teammate, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

Vecchione is expected to practice with the Flyers on Saturday, but is not expected to make his NHL debut until Sunday in New York.
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