The Flyers know they need to improve
Through the first five games of the season, the Flyers (1-4-0) have scored just six goals. Things only got worse for the orange and black’s offense when Vinny Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell went down with injuries in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Now, the banged-up Flyers head to Detroit to take on the Red Wings (2-2-0) for their second game in as many nights.
With puck drop set for 7 p.m. on CSN, here are five things you need to know for Flyers-Red Wings:
1) No Lecavalier, no Hartnell
For a Flyers team struggling to find the back of the net, the losses of Lecavalier and Hartnell are huge.
General manager Paul Holmgren said Lecavalier (lower body) and Hartnell (upper body) will undergo MRIs on Saturday but will miss at least a week each, so the Flyers need someone – anyone – to step up and deliver some goals in their absence.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who has yet to register a point this season, is one of them.
“It’s time for guys to step up, myself also,” Giroux said after the Flyers’ loss to Phoenix. “I know we have our chances, but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to put the puck in the net. It doesn’t have to be pretty.”
Two other forwards who have yet to find the scoresheet are Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. With Lecavalier and Simmonds sidelined, Read and Simmonds are candidates to see more ice time – especially on the power play.
2) The power's out
One thing the Flyers and Red Wings have in common early on this season is both clubs have been highly ineffective while on the man advantage.
The Flyers have gone 2 for 28 while a man up (28th in the NHL) and the Red Wings are the only team in the league that has yet to score on the power play (0 for 10).
Detroit, however, has several dangerous offensive weapons on their PP units – Hernik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen just to name a few.
The Flyers, who have been shortened 26 times already this season, have to play a disciplined game against the Red Wings if they want to come away with a W. They simply can’t afford to give Zetterberg, Datsyuk and company too many chances while up a man.
3) Wreck-it Rinaldo
Zac Rinaldo has made serious strides towards becoming a calmer, more effective player for the Flyers.
The 23-year-old had an assist against Phoenix, but his setup on the Flyers’ lone goal was negated by several undisciplined penalties.
After the Flyers tied the game 1-1 in the second period, Rinaldo was called for an unnecessary high-sticking penalty which cost the Flyers big time. The Coyotes took the lead back with Rinaldo in the box on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s power-play tally, which turned out to be the game-winner.
Rinaldo also took a charging penalty in the first period, which led to a scrap with Paul Bissonnette, and a cross-checking minor in the third. He finished the night with 11 PIMs total.
Over the past two seasons, Rinaldo has been able to keep his cool and has actually drawn more penalties than he has taken. The Flyers need Rinaldo to forget about Friday and get back to what he does best: throw the body. He leads the NHL with 26 hits this season.
4) Unfriendly confines
The Flyers have not had much luck at Joe Louis Arena for quite some time.
The Red Wings are 15-1-1 in their last 17 games against the Flyers in Detroit since Feb. 16, 1990.
On the bright side, the last five meetings between the Flyers and Red Wings have been decided by one goal, with the orange and black winning three of them.
5) This and that
• The Flyers, thanks to last season’s lockout-shortened season, have not played the Red Wings since March 6, 2012. The Flyers won that contest, 3-2, with Max Talbot picking up the game-winning goal.
• Zetterberg lit up the Flyers in the 2011-12 season series, collecting two goals and two assists in two games. The Red Wings’ captain has seven goals and six assists in nine career regular-season contests against the orange and black.
•Flyers forward Sean Couturier has collected assists in back-to-back games and has won 57.5 percent of his faceoffs so far this season.