PREVIEW: FLYERS VS. RED WINGS
Searching for their first home win of the young season, the Philadelphia Flyers (2-3-2) return to the Wells Fargo Center tonight to take on Mike Babcock’s Detroit Red Wings (4-1-2). Game time is 7 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised locally on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia.
This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season, and the first of two in Philly.
The clubs will rematch on Nov. 26 in Detroit and March 14 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Following tonight’s game for the Flyers, the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings come to town on Tuesday night. Thereafter, the Flyers embark on a two-game Florida road trip against Tampa Bay and Florida before returning home for a three game homestand.
Detroit heads next to play Washington at the conclusion of a two-game road trip. The Red Wings are back home at Joe Louis Arena next Friday to take on the Kings. 2013-14 Season Series in Review
Last season, the Flyers won the second and third games of the three-game season series with the Red Wings. They were 1-1-0 on the road and won the lone game in Philadelphia.
On Oct. 12, 2013, the Flyers fell to 1-5-0 on the season after suffering a 5-2 loss in Detroit. The Red Wings went 3-for-7 on the power play and pulled away in the third period. Henrik Zetterberg (two goals, one assist), Pavel Datsyuk (one goal, two assists), Niklas Kronwall (one goal, two assists) and Daniel Alfredsson (three assists) all had three-point nights. Ray Emery absorbed the loss in goal for the Flyers, while Jimmy Howard made 32 saves to earn the win.
On Dec. 4, 2013, the Flyers trailed the host Red Wings by a 3-1 score before exploding for five unanswered goals, including four in the third period. Sean Couturier set a single-game career high with four points (two goals, two assists), while linemates Matt Read (one goal, two assists) and now-former Flyer Steve Downie (one goal, one assist) also enjoyed multiple-point nights. Detroit, which got two early goals by Tomas Tatar, was playing without numerous injured key players. Among the absentees were Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.
On Jan. 28, 2014, Steve Mason backstopped the Flyers to a 33-save shutout in a 5-0 home win over the still-depleted Wings. Claude Giroux (one goal, two assists) and now ex-Flyer Scott Hartnell (two goals, one assist) led the Philadelphia attack on this night, while defenseman Nicklas Grossmann (six hits, six blocks, no giveaways) had a monster night on the blueline. Mason’s shutout was the fourth of his career against Detroit. On this night, the Wings were missing the injured Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Johan Franzén from the lineup. FLYERS OUTLOOK
The Flyers enter this game coming off a 2-1-0 road trip that saw them sandwich wins against the Dallas Stars (a comeback 6-5 overtime win) and Pittsburgh Penguins (5-3) around an ugly 4-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
On Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, the Flyers shrugged off a slow start in the first period and skated off with a 5-3 victory. Mark Streit, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (first NHL goal), R.J. Umberger (first goal since his return to the Flyers), Read (first goal of the season) and Couturier (empty net goal to cap off a three-point game) tallied for Philadelphia. Emery stopped 22 of 25 shots to earn the win.
After an off-day on Thursday, the Flyers returned to practice yesterday. The club revealed disturbing news: key defensemen Andrew MacDonald (lower body injury) and Braydon Coburn (left foot injury) would be sidelined for approximately four weeks. MacDonald got injured in the Pittsburgh game but finished out the game. Coburn, who got hurt on opening night and has not played since then, was downgraded from day-to-day status and placed on injured reserve.
Early yesterday evening, the Flyers recalled highly touted rookie offensive defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He will make his NHL regular season debut tonight. Gostisbehere had two assists (both in the Phantoms’ home opener) in three regular season games with the Phantoms. He tallied a pair of goals for the Flyers in the preseason.
The recall of Gostisbehere came as something of a surprise. Earlier in the day, there was a nameplate in the dressing room for Mark Alt; a big-framed righthanded shooting second-year pro who is more of a defensive defenseman. However, Alt remained in Allentown with the Phantoms, while Gostisbehere was scratched for last night’s game against Hershey in anticipation of his callup to the Flyers.
Elsewhere on the injury front, the Flyers remain without Vincent Lecavalier (foot injury). He has resumed skating and could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday night. Zac Rinaldo (upper body) left Wednesday’s game after the second period and missed practice on Friday. He is officially on a day-to-day basis.
Flyers top-line center Giroux and linemate Jakub Voracek enter tonight’s game sharing the club overall scoring lead with nine points (two goals, seven assists apiece). Wayne Simmonds, who was held without a point on the three-game road trip, holds the club goal-scoring lead with five tallies (three power play, two even strength).
The Flyers played an improved two-way game against the Penguins after their slow start in the game. All five goals Philly scored came at even strength; an encouraging sign for a team that struggled in five-on-five play through lengthy segments of the first six games.
Umberger, who has had his greatest career success in games against Pittsburgh, Detroit and the New York Islanders, enters tonight’s game with 12 career goals in 33 games against the Red Wings. He has only scored more goals (14) against the Islanders. Red Wings outlook
Detroit has reeled off a 3-0-1 run in its last four games. The club enters tonight’s game after reeling off three unanswered goals in the third period and overtime to seize a comeback 4-3 win over the Penguins on Thursday night.
Second and third period goals by Kronwall keyed the comeback for the Red Wings. The second goal, scored with 39 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime. The latter tally came just two minutes after Zetterberg brought the Red Wings back within 3-2. In overtime, Justin Abdelkader completed the victory with his third goal of the season. Zetterberg earned his seventh assist of the season on the winning play, running his team-high point total to 10.
Jimmy Howard (23 saves) earned the win in net against the Penguins. Tonight, backup Jonas Gustavsson will make his second start of the season. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)
Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 3.14 (T-7th), Red Wings 2.29 (T-24th)
Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 3.71 (27th), Red Wings 1.71 (T-4th)
Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.70 (25th), Red Wings 1.20 (T-13th)
Power play efficiency: Flyers 26.9% (5th), Red Wings 7.4% (25th)
Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 73.7% (27th), Red Wings 100% (1st)
Faceoff percentage: Flyers 50.8% (12th), Red Wings 51.5% (8th) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)
12 Michael Raffl – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek
10 Brayden Schenn – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 17 Wayne Simmonds
18 R.J. Umberger – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read
41 Blair Jones – 76 Chris VandeVelde – 42 Jason Akeson
8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit
55 Nick Schultz – 53 Shayne Gostisbehere
15 Michael Del Zotto – 22 Luke Schenn
35 Steve Mason / 29 Ray Emery
Scratches: Andrew MacDonald (lower body), Braydon Coburn (IR, left foot), Vincent Lecavalier (IR, left foot), Zac Rinaldo (upper body, day-to-day).
8 Justin Abdelkader – 40 Henrik Zetterberg – 14 Gustav Nyquist
21 Tomas Tatar – 43 Darren Helm – 13 Pavel Datsyuk
49 Andrej Nestrasil – 15 Riley Sheahan – 26 Tomas Jurco
20 Drew Miller – 41 Luke Glendening – 18 Joakim Andersson
55 Niklas Kronwall – 52 Jonathan Ericsson
27 Kyle Quincey – 65 Dan DeKeyser
4 Jakub Kindl – 2 Brendan Smith
50 Jonas Gustavsson
[30 Jimmy Howard]
Scratches: Johan Franzén (IR, lower body), Stephen Weiss (healthy), Daniel Cleary (healthy), Brian Lashoff (healthy).
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.