NHL on NBCSN: Flyers face Red Wings on Rivalry Night

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers at the Madison Square Garden at 6:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Many of the trends indicate that the Philadelphia Flyers are moving downward (and could continue that path) while the Detroit Red Wings seem primed to keep climbing. It’s Philly’s job to deny that narrative on “Rivalry Night,” then.

The Red Wings have three of their last four, including a 4-3 decision against the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Meanwhile, the Flyers only have one win in their last six games and have only managed three standings points in that same span. Steve Mason’s 46-save shutout was impressive on Monday, yet it still resulted in a shootout defeat (and plenty of frustration).

There’s at least one obvious area that favors Philly: recent head-to-head matches. They beat the Red Wings 4-2 earlier this season and have won three of their last four meetings.

Health is still a factor for Detroit

Was a two-goal outburst by perpetually injured forward Stephen Weiss a sign of better things to come for the Red Wings or just a mere coincidence?

Whatever the case may be, Detroit isn’t quite 100 percent just yet. We’ll find out later today if Pavel Datsyuk is good to go, with NHL.com surmising that Tomas Jurco would be bumped from the lineup if the star can play. It doesn’t sound like Brendan Smith will be ready to return, though.

Jimmy Howard’s likely to start. The Flyers could either reward Mason for his strong work on Monday or roll with Ray Emery, who won against Detroit in this season’s first matchup.

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Again, the two teams’ schedules implies that one team could be headed up and the other will have to fight to avoid slippage.

Five of Detroit’s next six games are at home and that trend stretches through much of December; they only play three road games through Dec. 23. In other words, this a time in which the Red Wings hope to start stocking up standings points.

Survival is probably the goal for the Flyers, on the other hand. Including tonight’s game, six of their next seven contests are on the road. They only play five home games through Jan. 3.

Philly may also want to avoid a shootout tonight, as the Flyers have lost all three this season and eight in a row overall.

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 It’s an interesting test for two historic franchises hoping to stay (or advance) in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.