NBC Game of the Week: Flyers vs. Red Wings

Osgood.jpgPhiladelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings
12:30
p.m. EST – Sunday, April 4, 2010
Live on NBC

Detroit Red Wings – 41-23-14 (96 points) @
Philadelphia Flyers – 38-34-6 (82 points)

This week’s game of the week catches two teams headed in
opposite directions as they approach the playoffs. There was a point in which both teams were worried about missing the playoffs, but now the Red Wings are focused on improving their seeding while the Flyers are holding on for dear life.

Hot finish after a slow start

Nearly
a month ago we covered the Red Wings taking on the Chicago Blackhawks,
and wondered whether this was a team preparing for one last push for a
Stanley Cup
before they had to take a few years to ‘reload’. Since then,
Detroit has become one of the NHL’s hottest teams, winners of seven straight before Saturday’s OT loss to Nashville and eight of the their last ten games. In fact, they’ve taken a point from all 10 games, going 8-0-2.

At one point
it was a question as to whether Detroit would even make the playoffs;
silly us for doubting the NHL’s most stable franchise of the past two
decades.

Stumbling into the playoffs

The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, are threatening
to fall completely out of the playoffs after going 2-6-2 in their last 10 games. They’ve lost Jeff Carter to injury and are on what seems
to be their 15th goaltender of the season. It’s the culmination of the
ultimate up-and-down season for the Flyers. Their inconsistency would
normally be that of a team fighting for a lottery spot in this year’s
draft, if it weren’t for the completely joke that is the bottom half of
the Eastern Conference this season.

See, the Flyers’
late season collapse would normally be enough to drop out of the
playoffs altogether. Yet no team in the East seems capable of stepping
up when it matters most. We now have a
quagmire of mediocrity among the conference’s bubble teams.

What about the goaltenders?

The
story of the game, incredibly, could be surrounding the goaltenders each
team decides to use. Mike Babcock decided to play
rookie sensation Jimmy Howard on Saturday so veteran Chris Osgood is expected to play on
Sunday against the Flyers. It would be Osgood’s first appearance since March 3rd and his first start since Jan. 27.

On the other side of the ice, no one has a clue who the
Flyers will have in net. I doubt the Flyers know, but hopefully they’ve
at least planned on it. Brian Boucher got the start on Friday night
against the Canadiens, but was rocked on Thursday against the Islanders.
Johan Backlund should return soon from his groin injury, but it’s
unknown if he’ll be available Sunday. It’s anyone’s guess if the Flyers might turn to
recently-signed Sebastien Caron or stick with the floundering Boucher.

Sunday on Pro Hockey Talk:

-The Red Wings continue to be successful, no matter who
might be in net.
-Do the Philadelphia Flyers have what it takes to hold on for the
playoffs?
-How different will the Flyers roster look next season?
-Who are the favorites for the Hart and Calder Trophies?
-Injury and goaltender updates for Detroit and Philadelphia
-Live chat during the game with Brandon, James and Joe!

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    Blues have ‘wiggle room’ after locking up Parayko

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    The St. Louis Blues didn’t break the bank to keep Colton Parayko for five more years, and that’s important since they don’t believe the NHL’s salary cap will rise significantly in the next little while.

    Parayko’s cap hit came in at a manageable $5.5 million, as the two sides narrowly avoided an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for today.

    “You like to have as much wiggle room as possible,” GM Doug Armstrong said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now we view the cap will stay flat for the foreseeable future. We’re content with the space we have. We’ll move forward and get ready for training camp.”

    The Blues now have a number of key players locked up long term, including Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, and Jake Allen.

    For Armstrong, the next big decision could involve Paul Stastny, the 31-year-old center who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

    But a decision on Stastny doesn’t need to be made now, or even before the season starts. It’s the trade deadline that could be the real pressure point, akin to the Kevin Shattenkirk situation this past year.

    Per CapFriendly, the Blues have just over $3 million in cap space, with one roster spot left to fill.

    ‘Highly unlikely’ Suns will pursue shared arena with Coyotes

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    The Arizona Coyotes appear to be on their own in pursuit of a new arena in the Phoenix area.

    That’s because Robert Sarver, the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, says it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll pursue a shared arena with the Coyotes.

    Instead, Sarver is focused on upgrading the Suns’ current home (and Coyotes’ old home) in downtown Phoenix, Talking Stick Resort Arena.

    From the Arizona Republic:

    Sarver said building a new arena would have “maybe made more sense” four or five years ago when the cost estimate was $450 million to $500 million. The costs now, Sarver said, are “significantly higher.” Thus his focus on upgrading Talking Stick, which soon will be the second-oldest arena in the NBA.

    “I think it’s the most economically viable alternative for the city and us,” he said. “I like downtown Phoenix. That’s my first preference. I think the NBA is more of an urban game. That’s our demographic.”

    Talking Stick Resort Arena, formerly called America West Arena when the Coyotes played there, was designed for basketball and isn’t ideal for hockey. In that way, it’s a lot like Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which hasn’t been a great fit for the Islanders.

    The Coyotes recently hired a new president and CEO, Steve Patterson, whose top priority is finding the team a new home in the Phoenix area.

    Crosby to celebrate 30th birthday with Stanley Cup in Nova Scotia

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    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby will mark his 30th birthday by once again parading the Stanley Cup in his province.

    In tweets sent out by the Sidney Crosby Hockey School, Crosby said he would hoist the trophy in the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth as part of an annual civic parade.

    “Get ready, the Stanley cup is coming to town!” Crosby confirmed in the tweet sent late Tuesday night. “I will be taking Lord Stanley to the streets Monday August 7th in the Halifax-Dartmouth Natal Day parade.”

    The parade, part of annual events that celebrate Halifax’s birthday, also happens to fall on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain’s 30th birthday.

    Natal Day chairman Greg Hayward said he expects another 25,000 people will be lining the parade route on top of the roughly 40,000 usual attendees.

    “It’s extremely exciting to think that we’re going to have Sid and the Cup in our Natal Day parade,” Hayward said Wednesday.

    Crosby has shown off the Stanley Cup twice before in his hometown of Cole Harbour, just outside Dartmouth, in 2009 and 2016.

    Last July, Crosby carried the Cup in the back of a pickup that made its way to an arena in Cole Harbour as thousands of cheering fans looked on in sweltering heat.

    Arbitration hearing looming for Arvidsson, who broke out in big way last year

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    Viktor Arvidsson wants a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, while the Nashville Predators are countering with a two-year deal worth $5.5 million ($2.75 million AAV).

    That’s the situation with an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    The two sides could still reach a deal before each case is heard.

    Arvidsson, 24, broke out in a big way last year, scoring 31 goals during the regular season, then helping the Preds to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

    But Nashville needs to be careful with its cap situation, because Ryan Johansen also needs a new contract, and he won’t be cheap to re-sign.

    Arvidsson just wrapped up his entry-level contract.