The Flyers head to the Motor City tonight to faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings, a team that is well...let’s just say they’re not having the most fun at the moment. Detroit comes in 0-9-1 in their last ten games and have lost six in a row in regulation. They’re second to last in the Eastern Conference, just five points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres. However, this is the sport of hockey, and this is the Philadelphia Flyers, so it will be key to not take this team lightly and stick to the style that has won the past two games vs. Carolina and Washington.
They will be without the services of Michael Raffl though, as the Austrian forward will miss roughly two weeks with an upper body injury. The sting of Raffl’s injury hurts even more in this game when it finally appeared Dave Hakstol had put together his most optimal lineup of the season. It’s best assumed Jori Lehtera will return to the lineup, but maybe Dave will shock us all yet again and we’ll see the return of Taylor Leier.
In two games vs. Detroit this year, the Flyers won both of them outscoring the Red Wings by just two goals altogether. This will be the final matchup of the season vs. Detroit and the possibility of a season sweep is there for this team. In their two games this season, the Flyers posted a 61.39 and a 48.35 CF% respectively. Overall, the Wings are not all that far behind the Flyers in team raw CF%, 20th in the league just two spots behind the 18th Flyers.
Three Keys to the Game
1. Contain Detroit’s speedsters
The Red Wings don’t have a whole hell of a lot of team speed, but the little speed they do have is explosive to say the least. Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin are two of the faster players in the NHL today, and making sure they’re watched at all times will be the first step in beating this team. The Flyers have been able to keep both of these guys off the scoreboard so far, so we’ll see if that can continue today.
2. Don’t let them into this game
The Red Wings quite simply are one of the worst teams in the league, getting off to a hot start and not allowing them to get any kind of momentum in this game will be important for the Flyers. Also, if the Flyers do have a late lead in this one, let’s hope Dave does not go into his proverbial shell and shut down the forechecking. This team cannot play the trap or their version of the trap all that well, we’ve seen this happen for essentially the whole season.
3. Dominate board battles
One of the major issues with this team of late has been the inability to win board battles. Especially late in games the Flyers’ inability to win these battles have usually resulted in failed clears, and in the worst case scenario, goals for the opposition. The Flyers need a game where they control the boards and win a good amount of their battles. Obviously some lines are going to be better at this than others, (i.e the Patrick line) but it’d be nice to see the Flyers not struggle in this department against a lesser team.
Flyers Projected Lines
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek
Weal - Filppula - Simmonds
Lehtera - Laughton - Read
Provorov - Gostisbehere
Sanheim - MacDonald
Hagg - Gudas