These wins say a lot more than what they show in the standings.
Despite facing the NHL's last-place club, the Flyers still played like a contender to pick up a 3-0 victory Monday night over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
The Flyers (29-17-7) are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, a stretch that includes wins over the Capitals, Bruins, Blues, Penguins and Avalanche.
The league-worst Red Wings (12-38-4) are 5-26-3 with a minus-67 goal differential since Nov. 14 and have lost nine straight games.
• Strong work by the Flyers, who controlled the game from start to finish. They needed this one and left no doubt.
With 65 points, the Flyers are just outside of third place in the Metropolitan Division because of the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker (see standings). They hold the Eastern Conference's first wild-card spot, while the Blue Jackets (65 points), Islanders (64) and Hurricanes (63) all play Tuesday night.
So while the Flyers' win came against the NHL's bottom-feeder, it was huge.
• The Flyers went after Kevin Hayes this offseason in large part because of the big center's defensive and penalty kill abilities.
Boy, are they reaping the reward so far in Year 1 of his seven-year, $50 million deal.
Hayes netted a shorthanded goal for the second straight game and is tied for the NHL lead with four such tallies.
Since 2016-17, Hayes owns 16 shorthanded points. Only one NHL player has more in that span — Brad Marchand with 17.
Hayes has 17 goals and is projected to break his career high of 25 set in 2017-18. Just as importantly, he and Matt Niskanen have done wonders for the team's PK, which entered this season sporting the league's second-worst percentage (78.4) since 2014-15.
200-foot goal appreciation tweet pic.twitter.com/P1QZ9ovjYP— #HockeyWeekNBC (@NHLonNBCSports) February 4, 2020
• Since Carter Hart went down with a right lower abdominal strain, Brian Elliott has gone 4-0-1 with a 1.58 goals-against average.
He has been massively important in Hart's absence, picking up victories over the Blues and Penguins.
Although he had to make only 16 saves against Detroit, he converted some big stops.
🛑 ELLIOTT SAYS NO 🛑 pic.twitter.com/oqqoEelsGQ— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 4, 2020
Brian Elliott with his 40th career shutout.— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) February 4, 2020
(📷 by Flyers PR guru Zack Hill) pic.twitter.com/hQhHJAzo50
• Scott Laughton made a real positive play to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.
The role forward didn't overthink things when he received a pass in the slot from Michael Raffl. Instead, he simply let it rip and extended his goal streak to a career-best three games.
Laughton has nine goals in 33 games. He scored a career-high 12 in 82 games last season. The Flyers are 10-1-1 when Laughton records a point and the 25-year-old has played like a valuable depth forward yet again.
The Flyers needed that goal as Detroit started to uncomfortably hang around (see highlights).
Laughton making moves!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 4, 2020
He gets one past Bernier and the Flyers take a 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/6AYmfUsb2n
• Robert Hagg seemed like the obvious odd man out for Shayne Gostisbehere's impending return.
Give credit to Hagg, though, he has made the decision as difficult as possible for head coach Alain Vigneault. Seven healthy and serviceable defensemen is a good problem to have in the NHL.
The keep-it-simple Hagg has gone 16 straight games without being a minus player. During that stretch, the 24-year-old has put up six points and a plus-11 mark after notching a helper Monday.
Don't be surprised if Vigneault goes with a matchup, performance-based approach moving forward. Gostisbehere, Philippe Myers and maybe even Justin Braun will have to be consistent to keep their spots.
• The Flyers are off Tuesday, practice Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, and host the Devils Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
Hart's status is uncertain for the game, while Gostisbehere is expected to return after missing 10 games because of arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
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