When the Red Wings and Flyers get together Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it’s a chance to see a NHL record-tying game. The Red Wings are looking to win their 20th straight game at home and having to do it against the Philadelphia Flyers presents a curious challenge.
The Flyers, despite their recent struggles losing four of their last five games, have been really good on the road this season. At 18-8-2 they’ve been better on the road than at home (13-9-5) and are coming off a difficult loss in Philly against their divisional rivals the Rangers. After that game defenseman Kimmo Timonen ripped his teammates filling in the role as team captain with Chris Pronger done for the year. While the offense is still there for Philly, the defense and goaltending are lacking. If the Flyers want to play the role of spoiler in Detroit, they’re going to need to be a lot better to pull it off.
Meanwhile for Detroit, they just keep finding ways to win at home. Regulation, overtime, or shootout the Wings have been pulling games out. They haven’t lost at home since November 3 when they fell to Calgary.
While Henrik Zetterberg has slumped this season, Pavel Datsyuk has been brilliant while getting goals from Johan Franzen and stunning offense from Todd Bertuzzi. The Red Wings defensemen also lead the NHL in goals scored from the position.
If there’s a weakness they have now it’s in goal with Jimmy Howard out with a broken finger. While he’s aiming to get back next week, it’s now Joey MacDonald’s team to lead while Ty Conklin struggles. To beat the Wings at home, you have to outwork them and get the crowd out of the game.
The Flyers’ offense is capable of doing that and taking advantage of MacDonald will be the way to do it. Philly will just have to hope that either Ilya Bryzgalov or Sergei Bobrovsky can hold the fort down to prevent the Wings’ offense from overwhelming them.