Flyers take care of business vs. Red Wings, approach key stretch

If the Flyers want to make the playoffs, they basically have to win vs. teams like the Red Wings. Philly did what was necessary to make that happen, beating Detroit 3-0 on Monday.

To hammer home the “can’t lose to a team like Detroit” point, consider that the Red Wings still haven’t beaten a Metro team this season (0-14-1). Let’s talk about the game, and then look at a crucial stretch in the near future.

Flyers dominate vs. Red Wings, Elliott stays hot

Brian Elliott‘s 2019-20 stats aren’t anything to write home about. Elliott came into Monday with an exceedingly mediocre .901 save percentage, for example.

Elliott has, however, been heating up when the Flyers needed him the most. Things seemed grim when news surfaced that Carter Hart suffered a substantial injury, yet Elliott has delivered. Elliott is now 4-0-1 in five games since Hart went down with that injury.

Elliott earned his 40th career shutout, and his second in three games. His only recent loss came against the Penguins.

Kevin Hayes also continued a recent hot streak. One could understand some nerves when the Red Wings went on a power play with Philly’s lead being at a slim 1-0. Hayes relieved such concerns with a key insurance shorthanded goal.

Hayes is now on a two-game streak of shorthanded goals, also extending his overall point streak to three games.

Scott Laughton scored the Flyers’ opening goal, while Matt Niskanen scored a long-distance empty-netter to wrap things up.

The Flyers didn’t run the Red Wings out of their own building on Monday, but it was a complete effort. They easily disassembled a potential “trap” game.

Flyers getting ready for key stretch

Much like with the Red Wings on Monday, the Flyers host the Devils on Thursday in a game they should win. After that, things become more interesting — and challenging.

Feb. 8: at Washington
Feb. 10: vs. Florida
Feb. 11: at Islanders
Feb. 13: at Florida
Feb. 15: at Tampa Bay
Feb. 18: vs. Columbus
Feb. 20: at Columbus

As you can see, the Flyers play a home and road game apiece against the Blue Jackets and Panthers. If the Islanders continue to stumble, they represent another immediately relevant matchup. The Capitals and Lightning round out that stretch as one where there really isn’t a “night off.” Facing five of seven games on the road amps up the difficulty a notch or two, as well.

So, you can see why it’s important to win games like Monday’s against the Red Wings. You either provide yourself more room for error, or head into a tough stretch with less confidence and little margin for error.

If the Flyers takes care of business against New Jersey like they did against Detroit, they could enter the weekend with their heads held high.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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