Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Flyers-Red Wings Preview: Things To Watch

If you are any sort of Flyers or Red Wings (or Bruins) fan, you know the implications of tonight's game in Detroit. Whichever team wins will increase their playoff odds by nearly 20%, and whichever team loses will be in a big hole for the rest of the season. If you're looking for different numbers/scenarios, there are better places to go (I'd recommend BSH).

Tonight will be the third and final matchup between Detroit and Philadelphia this season.

Game One: January 17th (Flyers won 2-1 in a shootout) (via War On Ice)

Notable Flyers who played: Gostisbehere, Del Zotto, Umberger, Medvedev, Laughton, Neuvirth

Notable Flyers who did not: Cousins, MacDonald, Mason

Notable Red Wings roster notes: nothing jumps out at me, other than Mrazek in goal

Voracek/Simmonds/Giroux led Flyers forwards in 5-on-5 ice time, with RJ Umberger just behind them. Ryan White got kicked out after like 30 seconds of ice time. Laughton, Read, Bellemare, Schenn, and Vandevelde were definitively behind the top two lines.

Both teams scored their regulation goals at even strength, but the Wings out-shot and out-Corsi'd the Flyers pretty handily (18-14 and 41-25). One reason is the disparity in offensive zone faceoffs - 18 to 4 in favor of Detroit. That can't happen for the Flyers, who have a premier offensive zone draw winner and have some crafty plays to run after those faceoffs.

Both teams had a lot of powerplay time, and they used it to generate 19 (Philly) and 20 (Detroit) shot attempts (4 and 2 of those, respectively, were considered High Danger). But Neuvirth and Mrazek dueled, and the game ended with a rare Flyers shootout win.

Game Two: March 15 (Flyers won 4-3) (via Corsica)

Notable Flyers who played: Laughton, Gagner, Cousins, Mason

Notable Flyers who did not: Voracek, Umberger, Del Zotto, Medvedev

Notable Red Wings roster notes: I remember that this was Andreas Athanasiou's first NHL game, and Mrazek played again

In Jake's absence, the Flyers' 5-on-5 time was split pretty evenly among the following forwards (in order, ranging from 12.5 to 13.5 minutes) Couturier/Simmonds/Schenn/Raffl/Giroux/Vandevelde. Did I miss something in this game? Was Giroux-Vandevelde at even strength done on purpose?

Behind those top six forwards in ice time were Gagner, Bellemare, White, Laughton, Read, Cousins. Now I think I remember - Gagner should be ahead of CVV in the depth chart because he was filling in for Voracek, but Vandy must have gotten stuck out after a penalty kill for an extra shift. Got it.

This was a three phase game. The Flyers caved the Wings in early, scoring two first-period goals and out-shooting Detroit 23-3 in the first twenty minutes. The middle of the game was back-and-forth, with each team scoring a pair of goals in the second period. The final 15 minutes or so was a barrage of Detroit shots - including a Tomas Tatar goal - but the Flyers were able to deny a late equalizer.

Mark Streit and Nick Schultz led the Flyers in ice time. If that happens again tonight - even if it's just because Hakstol likes to be conservative when he gets a lead - I will light myself on fire.

What Are We Looking For In Game 3?

1. The Flyers will, for the second matchup in a row, be without their entire healthy lineup. This time it will be just Del Zotto who sits, as Voracek is back to (basically) 100%. How much of a difference does Jake make, both in the top six and (via the trickle-down effect) the bottom six?

2. The Cousins-Read-Gagner line was together last month, but they've been playing really impressive hockey since then. How much does it matter that we have a legit third line now?

3. Why is Andrew MacDonald playing?

4. Can we please win so we don't have to beat Pittsburgh this weekend?

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