Posts tagged “Flyers”

Wings 2, Flyers 3

The Streak Continues: The Wings still haven’t won in Philadelphia since ’97. Which is crazy.

Good, Considering: Considering how depleted the Wings were, that they only lost by a goal to the Flyers is pretty good. They even got a goal each from two of the top guys still standing. One or two fewer mistakes, and they maybe pull it off.

Kronwall: Did this. And he won’t be suspended.

It’s easy to see why he won’t be suspended: it’s a legal hit under the rules. He didn’t leave his feet to make the hit, didn’t specifically target the head, didn’t make the hit blindside, etc. But I have to say I am all for this kind of hit being punishable in the future. I don’t like seeing that kind of contact to the head, however much it is true that Voracek foolishly had his head down.

I’m glad Kronwall didn’t get suspended, because the Wings can’t afford to lose him with the injuries they’ve got on the blueline. But at the same time, I don’t like that hit. Legal now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be.

The League’s dealing with head contact, but it’s slow. There’s still a ways to go.

The Flyers: It was interesting to see their reaction to the hit. They didn’t go ballistic on Kronwall right away, which was good to see. But they did get rough as the game went on, which was not.

MacDonald: Seriously needs to stick to what he does pretty well: dealing with the puck coming at the net. Anything else is beyond his skill set, apparently. His mixup with Janik that led directly to Voracek’s goal is entirely preventable if he just stays in the crease.

Giroux: That guy is good. Victimized MacDonald twice, once on his goal and then by setting up Talbot’s.

Top Guns: I mentioned above that the Wings got a pair out of two of their remaining top guys, Zetterberg and Franzen. Still, I would have liked a little more out of them. Particularly Franzen. Z at least looked invested in the game before and after his goal. Franzen’s still having focus problems.

Power Play: Still awful. And don’t tell me it’ll be better when everyone’s healthy. It wasn’t rocking and rolling then, either. They’ve got issues they need to work out.

The Race: With the Blues’ win over Chicago and this loss, the Wings dropped two back. A win wouldn’t have given them the lead, but ceding two to a team that has proven to be as consistent as St. Louis isn’t great policy. I know the Wings were depleted, but look at that score. They weren’t that far off. Preventable things like the MacDonald/Janik mixup were the difference. They need fewer mistakes. The margin for error isn’t very wide these days.

Game Day Notes: @ Philadelphia

… This is the second and final game between these two former Stanley Cup Final contestants. The Wings won the first meeting 4-3 on February 13th. That win put them at 20 consecutive home wins and at the time tied the record.

… Last time we saw them, the Flyers were in fourth place in the East at 69 points. They’ve since dropped to fifth with 79 points, posting a 5-3-0 record in eight games.

… They’re coming off a 1-0 win over Washington on Sunday and took out the Islanders 6-3 before that. But they lost 1-0 to the Sharks a week ago.

… So, the Philadelphia media is touting Sunday’s game as one in which the Flyers went unpenalized, which would be impressive for the most penalized team in hockey. However, while it’s true the Flyers had no penalty kills in that game, they did earn a fighting major.

… They’re 13th in the East at home at 15-10-5, which is good news for a Red Wings team that hasn’t won in Philadelphia since the ’97 Finals.

… Tonight, the Flyers will retire the jersey of Mark Howe, a former Red Wings defenseman, current Red Wings scout and son of Gordie, which is pretty cool.

… Another former Red Wings defenseman, Andreas Lilja, was back in the lineup Sunday for the first time since February 16th, and should be back in tonight thanks to injuries.

… The injury list for the Flyers stands at Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros and James van Riemsdyk.

… Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start for the Flyers. He’s 8-8-0 against the Wings in his career.

… The Wings lost to the Hawks Sunday, which cut their record since February 12th to 5-3-1.

… They’re now fourth in the West, having given up the Central lead to the Blues via a tie-breaker.

… They’ll be playing with a depleted roster tonight: Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl are all out. Replacing the skaters are Brendan Smith, Chris Conner, and Doug Janik.

… Joey MacDonald gets the start and will be backed up by Jordan Pearce.

… The Wings can pass the Blues with a win or a point tonight, assuming the Blackhawks win in regulation or extra time over St. Louis. If both the Wings and Blues win, St. Louis retains the lead.

Beating the Flyers is a challenge the Wings need to meet.

Wings 4, Flyers 3

Briefly:

20: The sound of the final horn had hardly faded before there was talk of an asterisk going next to the Wings’ contribution to the home win streak record. Whatever. As Wyshynski points out, the Wings are “winning under the established, accepted rules of their era.” That’s what matters.

So kudos to the team. They’re having a ridiculously successful season, more so than I think we fans give them credit for at times. I was thinking the last few days that it seems silly to complain about a League-leading team as much as I do. Sure there are things that need fixing, but at the end of the day: 20 consecutive home wins and 78 points at the 57 game mark is not too shabby.

MacDonald: Had a rough couple views on the Flyers’ first two goals, what with his being directly at fault for them. But all in all, he looked very sharp and has played to the point that if he’s not the backup over Ty Conklin, there’s something wrong.

Eurotwins: Both scored, which is not a common occurrence this year. Let’s hope it’s the start of something. Zetterberg’s warming up, at least.

Kronwall: A goal and a big hit in one game? Just what I like to see.

Ericsson: Took a high hit from Zac Rinaldo in the first period. Glad to see he was okay.

He made a great defensive recovery play in the third and managed not to take a penalty despite the guy getting behind him.

Home Power Play: Improved to 21.5%, which is good for fifth in the League. As I said last night, the solution to the Wings’ PP woes is to only ever have power plays at home. They have their rough efforts, but are still more successful. Last night was no exception to either rule, with 2 PPGs and 3 duds (one of which was followed by a goal while the Flyers were still on their heels).

Lidstrom: Sweet play across to Franzen for the final go-ahead goal in the third. After the game, Keith Jones said something along the lines of “at his age, Lidstrom’s still got hockey sense, which most guys have.” Yep, because the distinctive thing about Nick’s hockey sense is that he has it at 41. Not that it’s better than just about anyone’s ever.

The Race: The Blues won, of course, again. Because they can’t not win, apparently. That keeps them at three points back.

Gotta keep winning.

Game Day Notes: vs. Philadelphia

Briefly:
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… This is the first of two meetings between the Wings and Flyers this season. The second game will take place March 6th.

… Philly is 2-3-1 in February and 1-2-0 in their last three.

… They’re coming off a 5-2 loss over the Rangers yesterday. They gave up three PPGs in the game, which would be promising most other years.

… Their 69 points is good for second in the Atlantic and fourth in the East. They have six points on the #3, Southeast Division-leading Panthers. So fair.

… The Flyers could be without Ilya Bryzgalov, who missed yesterday’s game with the flu, and Jakub Voracek, who left the game with an upper body injury. They’re definitely without James van Riemsdyk and Blair Betts.

… Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with 62 points and 40 assists. Wings fan favorite Scott Hartnell’s 49 points is second on the team.

… If Bryzgalov can’t go, Sergei Bobrovsky should be the guy.

… The Wings won their 19th straight at home Friday night against the Ducks. It was their second consecutive win since returning from a 2-1-1 road trip following the All Star Break.

… They lead the League with 76 points, three over their closest rival in the Central, St. Louis, and six over the next-closest, Nashville.

… They’ll be without Dan Cleary, who had his knee drained and a cortisone shot applied the other day. He’ll miss three games, he says.

… Cleary’s status means Emmerton and Mursak will both be in. Kindl’s performance Friday night ought to mean Commodore will still be out.

… Jimmy Howard remains in recovery mode with his broken finger, so Joey MacDonald will get another start. Jimmy did face shots yesterday and should be on track for a Friday return.

… The Flyers present a stiff test of the Wings’ ability to win without Jimmy Howard. They’ll need to be on top of things in both ends of the ice, in even strength as well as special teams situations.

They can’t afford to slip up at all, thanks to the fact that the Blues keep winning (3-2 vs. Colorado). The Predators got a point in Boston, so they’re not falling off. Unlike Chicago, who have gone 0-7-1 in their last eight.

And the Blues are active tonight, at home against the Sharks.

Leino to Philadelphia

Update (12:10 PM): St. James is all over this: she now says Tollefsen will be put on waivers today with the aim of sending him to Grand Rapids if he clears. If he gets taken, the Wings may not be too disappointed. They got rid of Leino like they had to do. Tollefsen was basically a bonus.

Meanwhile, where’s the rest of the Detroit print media? So far, Bruce MacLeod’s the only other writer to chime in.  - Matt

Update (11:41 PM): Not sure if St. James is going off old news here, but if not, Franzen won’t be back today. - Matt

CBC’s Jeff Marek just tweeted that the Wings have traded Ville Leino to Philly for a fifth round pick in 2011 and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen ($600,000). No word from the Detroit media just yet (of course).

Whoa. Not exactly a high price. Ville may have better luck in Philly, with Laviolette something of a player’s coach, if I’m not mistaken.

This could mean Franzen’s back today, but more likely, he’s still scheduled for Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see the answer on that question, though.

As for Tollefsen, I’m surprised the Wings took anything other than picks in return for Leino. He’s only played in 18 games for the Flyers. He has to be headed to Grand Rapids.

Wings 3, Flyers 2

Update (9:55 AM): I should add that Chris Osgood looked solid once again. The two Flyers goals were simply great shots, and while it would have been nice to see a save on the Hartnell goal, he made up for it at other points in the game when Philadelphia was pressing hard. He’s getting to where he needs to be. - Matt

… Overall, I thought the Wings played this one pretty well, even before the comeback. The game was exciting and had a lot of action throughout, and showcased two good teams going at in their different ways. Obviously the Wings could have played better, or they wouldn’t have been down 2 goals, but I don’t want to take away from the Flyers, who proved to be surprisingly good.

… Broad Street hockey is definitely still alive and well in Philly, however, and that’s not a positive thing. It’s reached its purest form in the person of Scott Hartnell, a player I consider more dangerous than a Jordin Tootoo because he’s no loose cannon. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and does it in sneaky ways that are more dangerous than Tootoo’s mindless bodychecks. His tripping penalty on Kronwall last night was intent to injure, but he gets off with just a minor apparently because he has long hair? I dunno.

… How much did it suck to have Hartnell of all people score 1-on-1 with Hossa like that? Ugh.

… Moving on. If there were negative aspects in the Wings’ play last night, one stood out for me in particular: their over-eagerness to start the rush. In the first two periods especially, they had a tendency to immediately take off as soon as it looked like the puck was going to be in their possession. This led to at least one 2-on-0 as well as a few scrambling situations where someone like Marian Hossa had to cover a free Flyer. There was not enough patience with the puck, at least not until Datsyuk scored and they seemed to settle down.

… The Flyers’ second goal was a nice example of what I’ve been getting at with the forward/defense integration. The way the play developed, a forward or two should have been back to support Stuart, but he ended up having to play a 2-on-1 while Kronwall dashed back hard with the forwards apparently watching from afar. Stuart played it well, I thought, but a laser shot beat Osgood nonetheless. The forward corps has been better in recent games, but they still need to make a point of remembering their defensive responsibilities.

… Another negative in the Wings’ game last night was the power play. They had times where they had real heavy pressure, but couldn’t score, and times where they could barely get the puck in the zone. Not exactly a banner night.

… This negative stuff isn’t meant to paint a picture of the Wings’ game as a whole. These things were spotty and just examples of areas they still need to work on. They put on a good effort overall, and are definitely still on the right road.

… This was Pavel Datsyuk’s night. The guy had a heck of a game with a goal and an assist, and the best on-ice presence of anyone in red.

… I thought Marian Hossa put on a good effort, but sometimes he tried too hard and it led to penalties. His first period holding the stick penalty was an example of a “veteran play” going too far. He was counting on the official somehow missing a stick hold that would have been obvious to someone with 10% eyesight.

Later, though, his hard work resulted in a nicely drawn penalty on a scoring chance that came out of nowhere in the third.

… The Flyers were great at a couple things last night and it was driving me crazy: taking away the middle, and blocking shots. The Wings could get one player or the puck  to the front of the net, but rarely both at the same time. And the Flyers seemed to block every other shot. They even blocked a Hossa shot on the empty net in the final minutes of the game. Ridiculous.

… I somehow managed to guess the line combos on a hunch. Kopecky really did play on the top line with Datsyuk and Franzen, at least until Babcock started mixing things up in the second. Brett Lebda did not play center, and Derek Meech and Kirk Maltby rotated in some shifts and had a center rotated in others.

… As a history buff, I can appreciate the decision to show the final minutes as well as the aftermath of Martin Brodeur’s rec0rd-breaking game. It worked out nicely in happening during intermission. But did they have to linger on him taking forever to cut the net off? Did they really have to show us Bettman’s impersonl formal statement? Versus had an obligation to show the Wings/Flyers game and they cost us three and a half minutes of the third period.

Showing Brodeur break the wins record is good marketing for the League because breaking records is something all sports fans understand and find interesting. So I get the reason behind the “live look-in,” but it could have been handled better. After all, the Wings are one of the League’s most important brands, and one that doesn’t get on Versus all that often.

… This was the kind of game that would have been a letdown had the Wings not made a comeback, but it would have been a loss I could have lived with. The difference between last night’s Wings when behind and the two recent Saturday’s Wings when behind was stark. I don’t expect a win every night, though I certainly hope for one. I expect a strong effort. And they gave it last night. It turned out to be enough for a win, but if it hadn’t, I’d still feel like they were making progress.

Game Day Notes: vs. Philadelphia

Update (3:27 PM): The game’s on Versus tonight, if you didn’t know. It could be funny. Or it could suck. Gabriel, commenting at A2Y, says Versus will switch to the Chicago/New Jersey game if the Devils are winning in the third and Brodeur is on the verge of setting the goalie win record. Awesome. - Matt

Update (12:18 PM): Bad news: Holmstrom’s out tonight with a strained knee. He’s listed as day-to-day. He was just four games into a comeback from hernia surgery.

All eight active defensemen will dress tonight, with Meech appearing as a forward. Lebda apparently filled in at center in practice, but the chances of that translating to the game are probably zero.

Possible lines and pairings:

Kopecky-Datsyuk-Franzen
Hossa-Zetterberg-Cleary
Hudler-Draper-Samuelsson
Meech-Maltby rotating in

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Stuart-Kronwall
Lebda-Ericsson
Chelios rotating in

In lighter news, Filppula is probable for Friday’s game in Atlanta. - Matt

… This is the only meeting between these two teams this season. The Flyers won the last, 6-1 on Feb. 13, 2007.

… Philly fell to 4-4-0 in March with Sunday’s 4-1 road loss to the Rangers. Prior to that, they had one three of four, beating Nashville to start that stretch.

… The Flyers are fourth in the East with 84 points, nine behind the division leader and just two ahead of the Penguins.

… Flyer defenseman Braydon Coburn will be in the lineup despite a vicious, behind-the-play cross-check to the Rangers’ Nik Antropov Sunday. The League chose not to suspend him after he was ejected from the game and assessed a five-minute major.

… Randy Jones (hip) and Derian Hatcher (knee) are out.

… Martin Biron will start in net for Philadelphia.

… George Malik scouts the Flyers here.

… The Wings improved to 5-1-1 in March with a pair of wins this weekend. They kicked things off with a 5-2 decision over St. Louis on Saturday and followed that up with a 4-0 win over Columbus on Sunday.

… The win over the Jackets put them over 100 points for the ninth straight season and clinched them a playoff spot. Their 101 points are good for first in the League, with San Jose coming in second with 100.

… Valtteri Filppula is still out with back spasms.

… Andreas Lilja remains on the LTIR with headaches from his concussion.

… Projected lines and pairings:

Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Franzen
Hossa-Zetterberg-Cleary
Hudler-Kopecky-Samuelsson
Maltby-Draper-Meech

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Stuart-Kronwall
Lebda-Ericsson

… Chris Osgood will start his third straight today.

… The team took the day off yesterday. Rest becomes more important at this time of year, but let’s hope they didn’t lose the focus that seemed to get them on track this weekend. They’ve got to keep going down the road they started on against St. Louis and continued on with Columbus.

The Flyers aren’t a team to take lightly, and the fact that the Wings don’t see them often should mean a higher concentration level. They’ll have to be at their best. Philadelphia can’t afford to lose too often at this point in the season, with the Pens breathing down their necks and only five points separating them from April tee times.

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