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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    Habs place Redmond on waivers — again

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    A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.

    (CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)

    Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.

    Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.

    Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.

    Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.

    Report: Oilers and potential UFA Maroon talking extension

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    The Edmonton Oilers and forward Patrick Maroon are reportedly discussing an extension, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

    Maroon spent a good chunk of the season playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it showed in his numbers.

    The 29-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals (he had never scored more than 11 goals in a season) and 42 points in 81 contests.

    Maroon is in the final year of a three-year contract that came with an annual average value of $2 million. You’d have to think that he’s in line for a raise.

    “Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.

    “Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”

    ‘We’ve got to get that out of his game’: Trotz wants Ovechkin to cut down on slashing penalties

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    As you may have noticed, the NHL is trying to crack down on players cheating on faceoffs and stick infractions.

    The first week of the preseason has been nothing more than teams getting a good look at their power play units because players still aren’t used to the way officials are calling the game.

    One of the players that has to adapt to the officiating is Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who took two slashing penalties against Montreal on Wednesday night.

    “Too many slashing penalties,” Caps head coach Barry Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “Ovi took two. We’ve got to get that out of his game.”

    Like all players, it’s something the Capitals captain will have to get used to before the regular season begins. But let’s be honest, there’s a good chance that these officials won’t be as strict on the stick or face-off infractions as the regular season goes on.

    Ovechkin isn’t the only star player that’s having an issue adapting to some of these stricter on-ice policies. Earlier in this week, Bruins forward Brad Marchand ripped the new face-off rule.

    “This faceoff rule’s an absolute joke,” Marchand said. “That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play this year like that. That’s brutal.”

    We’ll see if the league actually sticks to its guns here. If they do, how long will it take the players to adjust?

    Housley focused on making Sabres ‘an aggressive team’

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    The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been a playoff team in quite some time, but the organization is hoping that their major offseason changes will help them take a few steps in the right direction.

    One of those major changes came behind the bench, as the team hired Predators assistant Phil Housley to be their head coach.

    Housley did some terrific work with defensemen like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban last season. A big part of Nashville’s attack came from defenders pushing the pace from the back.

    “We want to be an aggressive team,” Housley said, per NHL.com. “I think everybody we’ve talked about playing aggressive offensively but we need to play aggressive defensively. I think defense gives you a chance to win every night and they’ll understand that we want to be fast and aggressive. The days are gone when a guy wants to make a breakout pass and the [defense] just watched the rush go up and play; they have to get up in the play not only to maybe join the rush and add to the attack, but to be in the offensive zone, being able to keep pucks in, or else you’re going to start playing defense.”

    The Sabres could use an offensive boost from their defense (or anyone really). Last season, Jack Eichel collected 57 points in 61 games, which comes out to an impressive 0.934 points-per-game. But Unfortunately for the Sabres, no player topped 60 points in 2016-17.

    Buffalo changed the look of their defense during the summer, as they acquired Nathan Beaulieu from Montreal and Marco Scandella from Minnesota. Both guys are capable of moving the puck, which should help Housley execute his plan.

    Also, it’ll be interesting to see if Housley can take Rasmus Ristolainen‘s game to the next level. The 22-year-old has surpassed the 40-point mark in each of the last two seasons. He’s also served as the big-minute guy on the Sabres blue line.

    “We’re here to learn from him and pick his brain, he was a [heck] of a player in his day,” defender Zach Bogosian said. “He gets the game. He’s played for a while, he’s coached for a while, he’s been around forever.

    “Guys are looking forward to playing that style.”