Flyers-Red Wings: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Red Wings: 5 things you need to know

Flyers at Red Wings
7:30 p.m., NBCSN/TCN

The Flyers (8-9-3) will try to snap a five-game road losing streak when they take on the Detroit Red Wings (11-5-5) at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night.

Here’s five things you should know before puck drop:

1. All about that Mase
Let’s be clear: Steve Mason earned a point Monday night on Long Island, not the Flyers.

It took a shootout for the Islanders to finally solve Mason, who made a season-high 46 saves from all angles in regulation/overtime for his first shutout of the season before allowing two goals in the dreaded shootout.

The Flyers’ netminder was visibly upset after the game. You could tell he was disappointed with the team’s performance, but still tried to keep some of the attention on himself.

"It's frustrating, but at the same time ... it has to be frustrating for the players when you don't perform well and you let in crap goals (in other games),” Mason said (see full story). “It's just frustrating not being able to get the extra point.”

Mason has every right to be agitated. He’s posted a 1.32 goals-against average in his last three starts but has just one win to show for it. Strong goaltending was absent in the early portion of the Flyers’ schedule, but it’s the least of the team’s worries right now.

2. Avoid the shootout
The Flyers need to do everything they can to just win games in regulation or overtime. The shootout clearly isn’t doing them any favors.

Since the shootout was instituted in 2005-06, the Flyers have posted an NHL-worst 27-54 record in the gimmick. They’ve dropped all three shootouts they’ve participated in this season and eight straight dating back to last season, when they went 3-8 overall.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux was asked Monday if the Flyers’ shootout woes are starting to become frustrating. His answer was predictable.

“Of course,” he said (see full story). “Any time you have a chance to win and get an extra point in the shootout you wanna get it.”

Flyers shooters have converted on just one of their 10 shootout attempts this season. Giroux potted the lone goal. Let’s just say there’s room for improvement.

3. Injuries
Update: Forward Michael Raffl (lower-body) is making progress in his rehab. He initially was expected to miss Wednesday's game and return this weekend, but the 25-year-old could play against Detroit. Head coach Craig Berube said Raffl will be a game-time decision. Raffl scored two goals and added an assist in the Flyers' 4-2 win over the Red Wings on Oct. 25.

Fellow forward Chris VandeVelde also has a lower-body ailment. He missed his second consecutive game Monday. His status for Wednesday night is questionable.

For the Red Wings, goalie Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) and defenseman Brendan Smith (hand) are out. Center Pavel Datsyuk missed his fourth straight game Monday with a sore groin, but will suit up against the Flyers.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: When Jakub Voracek isn’t piling up points, none of the Flyers are. The 25-year-old has been held off the scoresheet just three times this season. It’s no coincidence that all three of those contests were shutout losses. It wasn’t from a lack of effort, however. Voracek has easily been the Flyers’ most consistent forward all season. He’s been strong with the puck on his stick and has done a tremendous job finding open lanes to create opportunities. He’s due for a clutch goal. Don’t be surprised if he gets it Wednesday night.

Red Wings: Big-name forwards like Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Datsyuk tend to steal the headlines but there’s another offensive force emerging in Detroit. I’m talking about Gustav Nyquist, who has a team-high 10 goals through 21 games for the Red Wings. The 25-year-old is an elusive skater and possesses tremendous offensive abilities. He’s a natural center, but has converted nicely to the wing. He’s not the biggest forward (5-11, 185), but he’ll burn any team if he’s given time and space.

5. This and that
• The Flyers have won three consecutive matchups against the Red Wings, scoring 15 goals during that stretch.

• Giroux has two goals and five assists in his last four games vs. Detroit.

• In his second game of the season, Stephen Weiss scored two goals in the Red Wings’ 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Monday. Weiss had two markers in 26 games last season, his first with Detroit.

• The Flyers are just 3 for 31 on the power play in opposing arenas this season.

• The Red Wings are 12 for 40 on the man advantage in their last nine games.

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

The topic: The expansion draft, who to protect and best guesses at Vegas' selection.

Dougherty
We have and will continue to discuss in detail the entry draft, but we haven't talked much about the June 21 expansion draft. That's what we're doing today.

The expansion draft will affect the Flyers' plans this summer because they will be losing a player to Vegas, but the impact will be a minimum. They will not lose any core pieces.

How the expansion draft works: Teams have two options in protecting players. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. The expectation is the Flyers will protect seven forwards, three D-men and a goalie.

There are six forwards and two defensemen who are obvious protections: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas. Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are exempt.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will have decisions to make on who the seventh forward and third defenseman he protects. Then there is the goalie protection.

That leaves forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Nick Cousins, Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Jordan Weal and Dale Weise; and defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning.

Losing any of those six forwards would not be major blows to the Flyers. Now on the blue line, it gets interesting. My prediction is that the Flyers will choose to protect Manning with the hope Vegas takes MacDonald's contract.

Probably isn't going to happen.

Of the goalies, I don't think Vegas will have any interest in Anthony Stolarz, especially since he tore his right MCL in April. So that should cut the question here. That would mean the Flyers protect Michal Neuvirth, whom they signed to a two-year extension.

So what is my best guess at who Vegas plucks from the Flyers?

I think it will be a toss-up between Laughton and Raffl. I suspect the Flyers will re-sign Weal before the draft and then protect him, or have a verbal understanding they'll sign him after the expansion draft. Both parties appeared interested in him coming back.

My pick? Let's go with Laughton, a former first-round pick who turns 23 on Tuesday.

Laughton hasn't panned out as the Flyers hoped. He spent last season in Lehigh Valley and both Leier and Weal earned call-ups over him. I think that is a telling sign here.

So I'm predicting Laughton going to Vegas, where a change of scenery helps him out and the Golden Knights get a young forward that can slot into a third- or fourth-line role and still has upside.

Hall
There's a lot to the expansion draft — tons of possibilities and things can still change before June 21 that could impact the Flyers' decisions.

Albeit unlikely, Steve Mason could re-sign, which would obviously affect the Flyers' protection plan at goalie. Assuming that doesn't happen, I think the Flyers protect Neuvirth, especially considering Stolarz's health is in question this offseason and he may not be the true goalie of the future. Stolarz is also a pending restricted free agent, so he'll have to receive his qualifying offer from the Flyers before the expansion draft.

Now, let's say the Flyers go with the seven-forward, three-defensemen approach.

The blueliners are pretty clear: Gostisbehere and Gudas will be protected, as it comes down to MacDonald and Manning. I feel the organization thinks a bit more of MacDonald and his versatility compared to Manning, whose two-year deal last summer was likely strategic on the Flyers' part in planning for this expansion draft.

As for the forwards, Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn, Filppula and Couturier are staying put. I believe Weal will be re-signed and protected.

Ultimately, I could see Raffl being Vegas' choice. At 28 years old, he's not super young or inexperienced, but also not old by any means, and the winger can play all four lines because of a well-rounded game that complements different styles.

Raffl's injuries last season (abdominal, knee) may cause red flags. At the same time, the Golden Knights should be intrigued by the two seasons prior in which Raffl played all 82 games of 2015-16 (and was a plus-9) after scoring a career-high 21 goals in 2014-15.

A loss of Raffl wouldn't be ideal, but not as damaging given the Flyers appear to be gaining more depth and youth at forward.

Paone
June 21's expansion draft will be the biggest wild card of the NHL summer. And that's not just some corny pun because it involves an expansion team from Vegas.

It'll be the first piece of player movement during the offseason, coming before the entry draft and free agency. But since it will be the first piece of player movement of the offseason, it will help mold how the Flyers and the rest of the teams around the league approach their summers.

None of the Flyers' "big guns" will be on the move and my gut tells me the Flyers will be protecting Neuvirth as they want him to shoulder the starting load this coming season.

We don't know exactly what Vegas is looking for in the expansion draft because general manager George McPhee is keeping that close to the vest. But if I'm the Golden Knights' GM, youth is at the top of my wish list.

That leaves three Flyers to stick out in my mind — Weal (25), Cousins (turns 24 in June) and Laughton (turns 23 on Tuesday).

After the sparkplug Weal was down the stretch with eight goals and four assists in 23 games, the Flyers should reach a new deal with the UFA and keep him in Philadelphia.

That leaves Cousins and Laughton.

My instinct tells me Vegas will gamble (sorry, still getting used to this whole Vegas having a team thing) on Laughton, a former first-round pick.

There's a reason he was a first-rounder in 2012. The guy can play, even if he hasn't shown it consistently in Philadelphia. But remember he's been yanked back and forth between the AHL and NHL on numerous occasions and when he's been with the big club, he's either been in the press box as a scratch or been tossed back and forth between center and wing. That constant instability in both level and position can be detrimental to a young player. Vegas would give Laughton a fresh start, a fresh home and some fresh stability.

Plus, I know there are only so many protections to go around, but Cousins is a guy the Flyers should want to keep around. Just 16 points (six points, 10 assists) in 60 games isn't good enough offensively, but not many Flyers were great offensively last season. Everyone needs to be better there. But Cousins has that pest intangible that can be so effective, especially in the rugged Metropolitan Division, where basically every game is a rivalry game. It's a good quality to have.