Fresh off of yet another ass-whooping by the New York Rangers, things aren't pretty in Flyerville. Kimmo Timonen sounded off on his team's lackluster performance, as did many a fan. If the loss was good for anything, hopefully it was a needed reality check. Placement in the standings doesn't much matter, and the Flyers have a tough road ahead if they want to catch the conference leaders, who won again today and still have two games in hand after tonight's game.
For the time being, the Flyers need to forget about the Rangers. Their best shot at true revenge won't come until the playoffs, if at all. There are more immediate issues to handle though, starting tonight in Detroit, where the owners of the league's second best record will try to steal a piece of asterisked history from the Flyers.
You've probably already heard some of the hype surrounding the Red Wings' home winning streak, which is one game behind a decades-old mark of 20, held by the 1975-1976 Flyers and the 1929-1930 Bruins. Of course, neither of those clubs had the benefit of shootout wins, another reason to hate the post-OT skills comp. Travis pointed this out well at BSH:
During this streak, the Red Wings have won three games in the
shootout. Those would have been ties in 1976 or 1930. If we're taking
that into consideration, this Red Wings streak really lasted 12 games,
and it ended on January 12 against Phoenix.
Record or no, the Wings' success at home is a little salt in the wound of the Flyers' struggles at the Wells Fargo Center. There were a few stories in the press about the home woes, but none scratched the surface of answering what, if anything in particular, is the problem. Is it mere coincidence?
Bryz is still not 100%, so Bob is again in goal, but Bryz will back him up. Detroit will start Joey MacDonald while Jimmy Howard remains out due to a broken finger. MacDonald has started the previous three games, winning the most recent two. If you include the game MacDonald entered when Howard got hurt, he has a 2-1-1 record with a 1.57 GAA and .935 save percentage. On the Flyers' injury report, Jake Voracek was nicked up yesterday, so Kyle Wellwood has been recalled and will play tonight.
Speaking of the shootout, we always hope the game ends before that, but particularly tonight. The Red Wings have won six of them since New Years (including one on Friday), losing only one.
Wings by the Numbers
Detroit is 4th in goals per game and 6th in goals against, but their special teams marks are nothing special (16th PP, 21st PK). Hopefully their power play doesn't find the same mojo the Rangers did yesterday.
As usual, the Red Wings are led by the great playmaker Pavel Datsyuk (41 assists, 55 points), Johan Franzen (21 goals), perennial Norris candidate Nicklas Lidstrom, but they're plenty deep as well. They currently have 10 players with double-digits in goals; the Flyers currently have nine.
If the Flyers can get their act together after yesterday's beatdown, we could be in for a hell of a game. Either way, enjoy your Sunday night.