Detroit Red Wings

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.

Flyers drop back into top wild-card spot with SO loss

Flyers drop back into top wild-card spot with SO loss

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — It took awhile for the Flyers to get their motors running in the Motor City. Once they did, they rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to earn a point before losing to the Red Wings, 5-4, in a shootout.

Shootout specialist Frans Nielsen scored the only goal during the skill competition.

The loss dropped the Flyers into the top wild-card spot in the playoff race (see standings).

On the other end, the win snapped Detroit’s 10-game losing streak with its first win since Feb. 25.

• In his first return to Detroit since being traded to the Flyers, Petr Mrazek was pulled after allowing three goals on 19 shots in the opening 30 minutes.

• Alex Lyon stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief, including two buzzer-beaters and the final save that forced a shootout.

• Matt Read scored his first goal of the season, Sean Couturier reached the 30-goal mark for the first time and Travis Konecny continued his brilliant second half with his 20th goal of the season. And with three assists, Claude Giroux became the Flyers' fifth all-time leading scorer at 662 points.

• The Red Wings were able to strike first as they caught four Flyers in deep and unable to retreat in transition. Dylan Larkin slowed down Konecny and snapped a shot far post on Mrazek to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. 

• On the Flyers’ second power play, catastrophe struck again as they surrendered their 10th shorthanded goal of the season and a 2-0 Red Wings’ lead. Luke Glendening fired a shot top shelf, near side post over Mrazek’s glove hand. Mrazek appeared somewhat surprised as he usually comes out a little farther in his crease to cut down the angle. 

• The Flyers were in a complete defensive disarray on Detroit’s third goal, and I would love to know what Wayne Simmonds was doing during this sequence. He reached unsuccessfully for the puck, peeled off and then didn’t help out on the coverage down low. With the Flyers in complete scramble mode, it set up perfectly for Evgeny Svechnikov, who banged home an easy rebound.

• Mrazek was pulled after allowing three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second period and replaced by Lyon. You have to wonder where Dave Hakstol’s trust in Mrazek is after his night was cut short for the second time in three games. However, the Flyers let down Mrazek defensively and the goalie appeared to have said something to the coaching staff as he raced off to the dressing room.

• The Flyers finally woke up in the third period as Hakstol performed the four-line shuffle they needed to get that first one to wake up the sleeping bear. Surprisingly, it came from Read, who scored his first of the season. Scott Laughton’s shot deflected off of Read and angled upward past Jimmy Howard as the Flyers cut the deficit to 3-2.

• The Red Wings’ penalty kill sat back and let the Flyers’ power play drive to the net. Giroux did a solid job of settling the puck down and moving it over to Jakub Voracek. Voracek’s cross-ice pass allowed Shayne Gostisbehere to snipe the puck from close range. Howard had no chance as the Flyers tied it at 3-3.

• Just 28 seconds after Larkin made it 4-3 for the Red Wings, the Flyers struck back as a hard-charging Konecny got his body in the way of Couturier’s shot. Credit the Flyers, who weren’t ready for the start of this game, but had a never-say-die mentality in the final 10 minutes of regulation. 

• Interesting to see how the Red Wings attacked Mrazek with knowledge of his tendencies. Early on in the first period, Detroit elected to test Mrazek on wide-angle shots whether to generate a rebound or catch him leaving the near-side post unprotected. 

Petr Mrazek in strange yet familiar territory

ap-petr-mrazek-win-vs-jets.jpg
AP Images

Petr Mrazek in strange yet familiar territory

DETROIT — Petr Mrazek knew the day he was traded to the Flyers wouldn’t be the last time he’d be in Detroit. Looking at the Flyers’ schedule, Mrazek noticed one more game left to be played against his former team.

Tonight, Mrazek will make his 12th start with his new team against the organization that drafted him in the fifth round in 2010.

Prior to the morning skate, Mrazek spent time talking with former teammates and fellow netminders Jimmy Howard and Jared Coreau. But it was a little strange walking into Little Caesars Arena for the first time as a visitor.

“A little different, different entrance, but it’s a fun building and one of the nicest visitor locker rooms in the league,” Mrazek said. “Every game is different. I wouldn’t know who’s got more of an advantage. I talked with Double-A (Andreas Athanasiou) this morning and asked if he’s going to do the same move as he always does or if he’s going to go backhand. But when the puck drops, we've just got to focus on ourselves.”

Mrazek won his fifth game in orange and black with a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals Sunday. If the Flyers advance to the playoffs, the Red Wings would receive a third-round draft pick as compensation.  

The Dead Wing era
With a win tonight, Mrazek and the Flyers can eliminate the Red Wings from postseason contention. It will mark the second straight season Detroit has failed to advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which hasn’t happened in Hockeytown since the early 1980s.
 
The current-day Red Wings have completely tanked since the trade deadline. They’ve dropped 10 straight (0-9-1) since Feb. 26, and have just one regulation victory over the last 15 games.

The Flyers will be looking for a three-game season sweep of the Red Wings while being mindful of a dreaded letdown game against one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s important for us to be ready from the start,” center Sean Couturier said. “We don’t want to get surprised. They’re still a good team. They’ve got some talent, probably some guys who want to prove themselves. These games are never easy. We’ve got to be prepared for that and just focus on what we’ve got to do.”

The Dead Wing era is a period in Detroit hockey from the late 1960s to the early 1980s when the Red Wings failed to reach the postseason in 15 of 17 seasons. 

Passing 'Big E'
With a point tonight, Claude Giroux can pass Eric Lindros for fifth place on the Flyers' all-time scoring list with 660 points. Whenever his career ends, Giroux will join Lindros one day in the Flyers' Hall of Fame.

The current and former Flyers captains spoke briefly in Voorhees, New Jersey, earlier this season prior to Lindros’ No. 88 retirement ceremony on Jan. 18. Overtaking “Big E” is an accomplishment Giroux holds in high regard.

“Just for what he’s done for the organization, it means something. He’s had a great career,” Giroux said. “Just talking with him was pretty special. He talked about what experiences he’s had, talking about things he was going through as a team. To be able to pass him, it’s pretty special.” 

This season alone, Giroux has worked his way from 11th on the franchise’s career scoring list to where he is now. Once he moves past Lindros, Giroux will be 38 points shy of passing Rick MacLeish for fourth place, which in all likelihood, will come next season.