Flyers-Red Wings: 5 things you need to know

flyers-red-wings-game-notes.jpg

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.

Flyers-Islanders 5 things: Still trying to clean up mistakes after bye week

Flyers-Islanders 5 things: Still trying to clean up mistakes after bye week

Flyers (22-19-6) at Islanders (19-17-8)
6 p.m. – CSN/CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBCSports app; Pregame Live begins at 5:30.
 
The struggling Flyers head north Sunday night to battle the Metropolitan Division rival Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
 
Let’s take a closer look at Sunday’s matchup.
 
1. New week, same Flyers
Those hoping the Flyers would be a refreshed, recharged team after the bye week met a harsh reality Saturday night.
 
The Flyers were blown out of the Wells Fargo Center in a 4-1 loss to the Devils that saw the same things continue to haunt the home team — defensive breakdowns and a lack of offense, among other things.
 
It’s no secret this season is quickly slipping away from the Flyers. They’ve lost their hold on the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference to the upstart Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes, Panthers and Devils are breathing right down the Flyers’ backs. To pile on the good news, every other team in the East is within four points of the Flyers, including the last-place Isles, who have 46 points compared to the Flyers’ 50 points.
 
Needless to say, the margin for error is all but gone.
 
This has been said many times recently, but the emphasis still hasn’t waned — if the Flyers want to save this season, it has to start with the next game.
 
2. What’s the mindset?
Michal Neuvirth, who was pulled before the third period of Saturday’s game for “precautionary reasons,” had a striking quote after the loss to the Devils.
 
“When you lose so many games, you lose confidence,” he told reporters.
 
He’s not kidding, and further proof of that came in the loss to the Devils, when the game was tied 1-1. In the second period, Radko Gudas was whistled for a clipping penalty and, boy, was it an awful call. It was nothing more than a hard hip check, aka a solid hockey play. Gudas got the two-minute minor and then Wayne Simmonds received an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting the call, giving Jersey a full two-man advantage.
 
Predictably, the Devils scored to take the lead. Also predictably, the Flyers unraveled after that point.
 
It just seems lately that when something goes wrong for the Flyers, it all goes wrong for the Flyers. And that’s a troubling trend.

3. Changes in Brooklyn
Superstar John Tavares is still there, but beside that, plenty has changed since the Flyers and Islanders last met, a 3-2 Flyers shootout win in November at the Barclays Center.
 
No more Jack Capuano behind the Isles’ bench, as he was recently canned amidst his team’s struggles. Assistant general manager Doug Weight, whom you may remember from his not so distant playing days, is the interim head coach for the Isles.
 
Remember goalie Jaroslav Halak, who started the two teams’ first meeting? It’s no longer his net in Brooklyn, as he’s had a falling out with the club, lost the starting job to Thomas Greiss and was recently put on waivers.
 
And the Isles have responded positively to the changes, as they’ve won three in a row heading into Sunday night’s contest. The last-place moniker is misleading because the Isles are still just five points out of the final wild-card spot and still have tons of talent.
 
4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let’s go with Travis Konecny. Let’s just say the Flyers are in need of an energy jolt these days and the rook has just the type of skillset to provide it. He scored his team’s only goal Saturday against the Devils and isn’t afraid to throw his body around if need be. He also scored against the Isles earlier this season. He’s now up to eight goals and 14 assists on the season.
 
Islanders: It has got to be John Tavares. The guy is an absolute star, but still could fit into the “underrated” or “under the radar” categories just because he plays for the Isles. I mean, check out this goal he scored earlier this year against St. Louis. Holy moly. While you’re at it, get a glimpse of this one he scored against Dallas last week. He’s got 19 goals and 17 assists on the year. In his career against the Flyers, he’s got 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points, the third-most points he’s tallied against any team in the NHL.
 
5. This and that
• In a scheduling quirk, Sunday evening will mark the fourth straight time the Flyers and Islanders will play in Brooklyn. They haven’t met in Philadelphia in over a full calendar year — Jan. 9, 2016, a 4-0 Flyers win

• Sunday is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. They’ll also play Feb. 9 and March 30, both times in South Philly.

• Greiss will start in net for the Isles on Sunday. He’s recorded shutouts in his last two starts. For the season, he's 12-7-2 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average.

• Reinforcements could be on the way Sunday for the Islanders, as forward Cal Clutterbuck (lower-body) and defenseman Johnny Boychuk (upper-body) could be ready to return to the lineup after injuries.

• Sunday’s game will be the second of a back-to-back set for both teams. The Flyers are 6-3-2 this year in such situations.

• The Flyers’ ugly road losing streak is up to nine games. A loss Sunday would make it a not-so-perfect 10.

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

There are good penalties. And bad penalties. And penalties which aren’t even penalties.

The last one would perfectly describe Radko Gudas’ hip check on Miles Wood that was whistled as clipping by referee Dan O’Halloran in the second period.

Even Wood was laughing as Gudas went to the box, realizing what a break he had gotten – a power play for nothing.

“He’s a pretty quick D-man,” Wood said. “I don’t think it should have been a call, but it was a good hit by him.”

That gave the Devils a power play. Then, when Wayne Simmond argued the call with O'Halloran, Simmonds drew two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting 5-on-3 New Jersey power play saw the Devils score to break a 1-1 tie.

Minutes later, the Flyers had a bad line change and it was 3-1. Game over. The Devils would go on to win, 4-1 (see game story).

Bottom line? The Gudas call changed everything.

“I was really surprised,” Gudas said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty at all.”

Is this oversimplifying the game to say everything changed with that one call?

“Are we really simplifying it?” Gudas asked. “I think that after those calls we have to get together as a group and make sure we kill these off. Unfortunately, we let them score on that power play. It was just unlucky.”

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol called it “an excellent hit” by Gudas. He wouldn’t go deeper than that.

The six muffed power plays gave him enough reason to believe the Flyers could have gotten back in it. His Flyers are 3-9-3 since winning 10 games.

You can’t underestimate how those two calls turned the tables on the Flyers in this game.

“Everyone has their own opinion on the hit and we were obviously frustrated on the hit,” Travis Konecny said. “We thought it was a clean hit and we reacted to it. We have everyone’s backs.

“We have all had the one’s where we are angry with the ref and the one who made a hit like that. There is a time for that moment there.”

Goalie Michal Neuvirth thought it was a difference maker.

“Oh, absolutely, we were playing better in the second period,” he said. “I thought we had a momentum. You know stuff like that 5-on-3 for two minutes, it’s tough to defend.

“I think it’s taking way too many penalties lately and you got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”