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Alain Vigneault’s Philadelphia Flyers (8-7-4) are in Newark on Sunday to take on Lindy Ruff’s New Jersey Devils (8-6-4). Game time at the Prudential Center is 7:00 p.m. ET (NBCSP, 97.5 The Fanatic).

This is the first of three meetings this season between the Metro Division teams, and the first of two in Newark. The teams will rematch at the Prudential Center on Dec. 8 and the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 14.

The Flyers are winless in their last five games (0-3-2). Over that span, the Flyers have been outscored by a 20-9 margin. Dating back to the Flyers 2-1 win in Washington on Nov. 6 — arguably the team’s best 60-minute effort of the season — the team has a 2-5-2 record.

The Devils are 5-3-2 on home ice this season. Overall, New Jersey is 4-3-3 over its last 10 games but the team has lost five of its last six games (1-3-2).

On Black Friday in Nashville, the Devils sustained a 4-2 loss to the Predators. Nashville led for most of the game, building a 3-0 lead by 6:45 of the third period.Andreas Johansson (7th goal of the season) and Tomas Tatar (3rd) scored for the Devils. Jonathan Bernier made 27 saves in a losing cause.

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Here are five things to track in Sunday’s game.

1. Working around injuries.

The Flyers have sorely missed top pairing defenseman Ryan Ellis and second-line center Kevin Hayes. The team’s depth has been tested and come up short as the schedule became more compacted and challenging over the course of November. Neither Ellis nor Hayes will return imminently, so the Flyers will have to come up with answers before the gap widens even further in the tough Metro Division.

Middle-six center Derick Brassard is dealing with a lower-body injury. On Friday, fourth line center Nate Thompson sustained an apparent separated shoulder. In recent days, the Flyers recalled Morgan Frost, Connor Bunnaman and Max Willman from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

In their two games together, Frost has shown signs of establishing chemistry with linemates Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson.The Flyer need that to continue and to build from the flashes of promise that have been shown. Farabee has scored goals in back-to-back games. Frost assisted on Rasmus Ristolainen’s first goal as a Flyer; scored in Friday’s 6-3 home loss to Carolina.

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Apart from the depth question marks, the Flyers need their nucleus players at the top of the lineup to recover their games immediately. Top-line center Sean Couturier is goalless in nine games with only one assist in that span, and has also uncharacteristically struggled in 50-50 battles and off-puck situations in which he normally excels. No,. 1 defenseman Ivan Provorov roared out of the games with an excellent start in October to early Nov., has struggled in recent weeks in his own right.

2. Defensive structure and offensive execution.

Although the Flyers have had a season-long tendency to struggle in second periods and have been in a lengthy power play drought, the team at least had been displaying much improved defensive structure regardless of shot totals. Of late, however, the Flyers have seen their defensive play deteriorate in five of the last seven games.

The Carolina game was concerning. The Flyers stopped playing as five-man units. Neutral-zone and own-zone turnovers ended up in the Flyers’ net. Coverages on rushes, including basic weak-side assignments and picking of trailers, were lacking at crucial junctures. Eventually, the goaltending was dragged down, too.

Offensively, the Flyers have been struggling for a full month, scoring at the lowest pace in the NHL dating back to Oct. 28. Over the last 14 games, the Flyers power play has succeeded at an anemic 8.9 percent rate.

3. Inside the Numbers.

In terms of GF/GA breakdowns by period, the Flyers’ have seen their once significant positive numbers in the first and third period decrease of late. They are still slightly in the black overall in first periods (16 GF- 11 GA, 208 shots on goal vs. 202 opposition shots) and are now basically dead even in third periods (16 GF-16 GA, 200 shots vs 201 opposition shots).

The biggest problem remains second periods: 14 GF – 26 GA, 175 shots on goal – 241 opposing shots.On Thursday, they were strafed for four goals in the second period by Carolina.

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Tweet from @billmeltzer: Flyers vs. Devils: Goal/Shot differentials by period, special teams, situational GF/GA. pic.twitter.com/prWpFODwQp

4. Behind Enemy Lines: New Jersey Devils.

During the month of November, Jesper Bratt has racked up a team high 11 points (3g, 8a) in 11 games played.He’s followed by Nico Hischier (1g, 8a), Dawson Mercer (3g, 5a), Andreas Johansson (3g, 4a) and Pavel Zacha (team-high four goals, 2a).

MacKenzie Blackwood has been tabbed to start seven games this month (3-1-2, 2.84 GAA, .922 SV%, one shutout). For his NHL career to date, Blackwood is 6-0-2 against the Flyers with a 2.33 GAA and .929 save percentage. To date this month, Bernier has made four starts and two relief appearances (1-3-1, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%).

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