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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    Jets chase Dubnyk during dominant first period

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    Tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets is do-or-die for the Minnesota Wild. It looks like someone may have forgotten to tell the Wild.

    Despite not having Josh Morrissey, Dmitry Kulikov, Toby Enstrom, Mathieu Perreault and Nikolaj Ehlers in Game 5, the Jets are off to roaring start. Through 20 minutes, Winnipeg has a 4-0 lead. They already managed to chase Devan Dubnyk from the Wild’s net, and although the game isn’t over yet, it sure looks like the Jets are heading to the second round.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    Dubnyk lasted just 11:59, as he allowed four goals on 10 shots. Alex Stalock entered the game in relief of Minnesota’s starter. He stopped all three shots he faced.

    Jacob Trouba opened the scoring just 31 seconds into Game 5:

    Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia also found the back of the net for the Jets.

    This is total dominance:

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Michal Neuvirth gets Game 5 start for Flyers; Couturier returns to lineup

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    With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.

    Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    When healthy Neuvirth had the best numbers out of the group during the regular season, but health has been a constant battle for him the past few years.

    The other big lineup news for the Flyers on Friday will be the fact that center Sean Couturier will be returning after sitting out Game 4 with a lower body injury. He may not be 100 percent, however, given that he took pregame line rushes on the team’s third line between Scott Laughton and Wayne Simmonds. Valtteri Filppula was skating on the first line alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

    Among the other changes for the Flyers: Robert Hagg will replace Travis Sanheim on defense, while Dale Weise will play on the fourth-line instead of Oskar Lindblom.

    Related: Penguins will not have Patric Hornqvist in Game 5

    ————

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Barkov, Karlsson, O’Reilly are 2018 Lady Byng Trophy finalists

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    Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

    The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.

    The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.

    The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

    2018 NHL Award finalists
    Bill Masterton Trophy (Saturday)
    Norris Trophy
    Selke Trophy
    Vezina Trophy

    ————

    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    WATCH LIVE: Penguins, Jets, Predators look to advance

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    Game 5: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET (Penguins lead 3-1)
    NBCSN
    Call: John Forslund, Pierre McGuire
    Series preview
    Stream here

    Game 5: Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets, 7:30 p.m. ET (Jets lead 3-1)
    USA
    Call: Dave Randorf, Louis Debrusk
    Series preview
    Stream here

    Game 5: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET (Predators lead 3-1)
    NBCSN
    Call: Kenny Albert, AJ Mleczko, Brian Boucher
    Series preview
    Stream

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]