Flight Plan: Wheels Up

In this writer’s opinion, the Philadelphia Flyers blew it last week. The team had three games which they should have won, one of which they could have grabbed a point in, and garnered just four points to their names and worse, they scored just seven goals in the process. To come out the way they did against the lowly Florida Panthers, is just unacceptable. To need overtime and the shootout to win a game against the Nashville Predators is similarly unacceptable. This team is far too reliant on Ray Emery and Steve Mason to keep games within reach. They can’t move the puck out of their zone. They can’t sustain pressure. They can’t finish. That all makes for a real problem when games start becoming more important and teams get better down the stretch. They have played 26 games to date and in 20 of them, they have not been able to tickle the twine more than twice during regulation and overtime.  No matter how you slice it, that’s skating on thin ice.

This week the Flyers will have three road games as part of a six game trip to try to get their offense going against the Minnesota Wild, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Dallas Stars. You can buy tickets to any of these games through Tiqiq.com

12.02.2013 Minnesota Wild at 8:00 PM in St. Paul

The Minnesota Wild have 35 points in their 28 games this year and sit in fourth place in the Central Division. They have scored just one goal more than they have allowed and are 5-4-1 in their last 10. They are led by Zach Parise who has 23 points (11g, 12a). Mikko Koivu has 22 points (6g, 16a), while Jason Pominville has 18 points and leads the team in goals with 13 (5a). Both Ryan Suter (15a) and Nino Niederreiter (5g, 10a) have 15 points. Josh Harding has been the steady starter for the Wild this year as he owns a 13-4-3 record, two shutouts, a 1.52 GAA, and a .936 save percentage. Nicklas Backstrom, Harding’s backup, has a 2-3-2 record, a 2.77 GAA, and a .896 save percentage. This game is shaping up to be a defensive battle as the Wild and Flyers have allowed just 67 goals and 63 goals respectively, though the Wild have played two more games than the Flyers putting the Wild at a slightly better 2.39 goals allowed per game compared to the Flyers’ 2.42. If the Flyers can somehow find a way to generate some offense, and limit Parise and Koivu, they could win this game.

12.04.2013 Detroit Red Wings at 8:00 PM in Detroit

The Detroit Red Wings, not that surprisingly, are sitting in a tie for 3rd place in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division with 33 points. They have scored 74 goals while allowing 71 and are 4-2-4 in their last 10. The first meeting of the season between the two clubs saw Detroit take a 5-2 win in Detroit, with goals coming from Todd Bertuzzi, Nicklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg. Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, and Henrik Zetterberg each had three points in that game and when you look at the leaderboard for the Red Wings, those are pretty much the guys you want to limit. Zetterberg is at the top of the list with 30 points (11g, 19a). Datsyuk has 23 points (12g, 11a), and Alfredsson (6g, 13a) and Nicklas Kronwall (3g, 16a) each have 19 points (6g, 13a). Johan Franzen has 17 points (6g, 11a) as well. The Red Wings also have a good goaltending tandem in Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson. Howard owns a 6-7-6 record, with two shutouts, a 2.57 GAA, and a .913 save percentage. Gustavsson is 6-0-1 in seven starts, with a 2.17 GAA, and a .927 save percentage. If the Flyers can limit Detroit’s top guys, they’ll put themselves in a position to win this game.

12.07.2013 Dallas Stars at 2:00 PM in Dallas

The Dallas Stars are currently in the basement of the Central Division in the Western Conference, as they sit just one point behind the Winnipeg Jets. They also have four games in hand. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and have allowed 70 goals, while scoring 68 in 24 games. The Stars are led by Jamie Benn with 24 points (7g, 17a) and Tyler Seguin with 23 points (12g, 11a), who are way out in front of everybody else. Alex Chiasson (7g, 7a) and Cody Eakin (6g, 8a) are the next closest guys with 14 points apiece. Beyond them, there are really no threats in terms of offensive production for Dallas. What’s kept the Stars afloat is the goaltending prowess of Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen is 10-5-3, with one shutout, a 2.20 GAA, and a .926 save percentage. His backup, Dan Ellis, is 2-3-0, with a 3.52 GAA, and a .895 save percentage. If the Flyers can put some pucks in the net and keep Benn and Seguin from connecting, they might be able to pull this one out.