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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    Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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    Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

    It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

    Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

    There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

    Hmm.

    Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

    Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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    The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

    The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

    (Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

    For more on the three finalists, click here.

    MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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    It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

    Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

    Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

    People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

    Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

    The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

    Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

    Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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    Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

    Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

    Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.