Welcome to the most important game of the Philadelphia Flyers’ season so far. Trailing the Detroit Red Wings by 3 points with 2 games in hand, the Flyers will get a crack at their immediate competition on Tuesday night.
Here are 3 Things to know prior to the 7:30 puck drop.
- A Tale of Two Streaks
The Flyers and Red Wings are currently embroiled in two season-defining streaks. As for the Flyers, they’re playing playoff-caliber hockey for the first time in a long time, looking like true contenders. They’ve gotten contributions from everyone up and down the roster, have kept the puck out of the net, and are playing with real conviction.
On the other hand, the Red Wings are their polar opposites. Their record 24-season playoff streak could be in danger of being snapped this season. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, and rookie Dylan Larkin are all having strong seasons, but they have dried up when Detroit’s needed them the most.
A 1-0 loss to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs at home may have been the last straw for the Wings, who have recalled number 1 prospect Anthony Mantha in hopes of igniting a spark.
Momentum is firmly on Philadelphia’s side going into Tuesday.
- Questions in the Crease
It’s anyone’s guess as to who is going to start for either the Flyers or the Red Wings on Tuesday night, as both teams have some questions in the goalie crease.
For the Flyers, it’s a good problem to have: Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth have both played good hockey lately, and with a back-to-back set of games, coach Dave Hakstol has to decide who to play against each team.
For what it’s worth, Neuvirth has played well against the Red Wings and Blackhawks this year, so either game shouldn’t be an issue for the Czech netminder.
Meanwhile in Detroit, the Red Wings are in a goalie panic. Petr Mrazek, the goalie of the future for the Wings, has fallen apart down the stretch run, but veteran backup Jimmy Howard doesn’t inspire a whole ton of confidence either.
Whereas the Flyers have too many good goalies, the Wings are desperately searching for just one to lead them into the playoffs.
I would bet on Neuvirth and Mrazek suiting up on Tuesday.
- Push for the Playoffs
There’s no way around it: the Flyers’ playoff chances are in their hands now; the ball is in their court. With 2 games remaining against the Red Wings and 3 upcoming versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers need to treat these games like quasi-playoff series.
The Red Wings seem to have a talent edge over the Flyers, but momentum is the almighty equalizer of sports, and it has turned the tides overwhelmingly in the Flyers’ favor. The Flyers, fresh off of a successful Florida road trip, have no shortage of confidence, while the Red Wings could use a shot of confidence in the worst way.
The Flyers need to assert their will physically on the Wings and get out and play a complete 60-minute game to beat Detroit, a much faster team than the Flyers.
Confidence could give the Flyers a key edge on Tuesday night. With the Wells Fargo Center sure to be rocking and both teams squaring off for their playoff lives, Tuesday night is a can’t-miss game for Flyers fans.