Detroit Red Wings head to Philly for the first of a weekend home and home

<> at Wells Fargo Center on December 18, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
<> at Wells Fargo Center on December 18, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. /

The Detroit Red Wings head to Philly today as they open a home and home weekend series with the Flyers this afternoon.  The Wings get a friendly face back into the lineup today too.  We welcome back Tyler Bertuzzi today.

Coming off of back-to-back 3-2 victories over the Nashville Predators and the Ottawa Senators the Detroit Red Wings look to remain hot in Philadelphia today.  Speaking of “hot,” that is exactly what the Flyers are at the moment having won 10 of their last 12 contests.  In those 12 games, the Flyers have an overall record of 10-1-1.

After a plodding start to the season, a coaching change, they’ve replaced Ron Hextall with Chuck Fletcher as their new General Manager, and the Flyers are trying to make up a bunch of ground to get themselves back into the playoff hunt in the East.  They are currently ranked 11th in the Conference and time is starting to tick by a bit more swiftly now as we are on the back nine of the season now.

In my opinion, the centerpiece of the Flyers success moving forward is rookie goaltender Carter Hart.  The franchise seemingly tried to allow Hart to develop in the minors as long as they could afford too. He’s been highly decorated throughout his junior and minor league career.  The Flyers have been desperate to find a goaltender since Hextall himself left the cage.  Although that may seem far fetched, they haven’t had stability back there in a long time.

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Hart is shaping up to be that calming presence in net that keeps the team in every game.  The 20-year-old is 11-6-1 on the season with a very good 2.48GAA/0.924 SV.  The Flyers did make a trade yesterday as they’ve acquired goaltender Cam Talbot from the Oilers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz.  Talbot has worked out with Hart during the offseason in the past.  Talbot should provide a veteran presence for the kid to lean on when things get rocky.  Remember Hart is only 20 years old.

Claude Giroux continues to pace the Flyers on the offensive side of things. The captain leads the Flyers with 61 points on the season.  This past offseason the Flyers had a reunion with James Van Riemsdyk.  Things haven’t gone precisely to play with him or Simmonds this year, but the pair still have the ability to score and provide some grit when needed.  JVR has 15 goals and 28 points on the season while Wayne Simmonds who is a pending UFA has notched 16 goals totaling 25 points.

On the Detroit Red Wings side of things, Andreas Athanasiou has returned to life of late having scored 4 points over his last 4 games.  He buried a pair at home against the Sens Thursday night.  He’s been flying around, and although he went through a long scoreless slump prior to his outburst in the last 4, he was still getting chances.  He now has 20 goals on the season which is a career high for him. He has the potential to get to 30 with how streaky he can be.

Dylan Larkin tops the team with 54 points.  He’s having a marvelous season, by far the best year of his young career.  He’s playing stellar in all three zones, for the first time in his career he’s above 50% in the faceoff circle, 54% successful as a matter of fact.  His possession stats are outstanding, and that’s not even taking account for the below average team he’s a part of.  His CF% is nearly 55%.  Operating just a hair under a point per game it’s safe to say Dylan Larkin in his fourth season has arrived.

I would expect Jeff Blashill will try and get the Larkin line out against Giroux and company as often as he can today, but more so tomorrow when the game is in Detroit, and the Wings will have the luxury of the last change.  Blashill is comfortable with either of his top three centers playing against the opposition’s top line, but Frans Nielsen is questionable with the flu which opens the door for Larkin and Glendening to play primarily against the Flyers top group.

Although the Detroit Red Wings sent Dennis Cholowski down to Grand Rapids they’ve recalled Filip Hronek today, he isn’t expected to play this afternoon though.

The projected Detroit Red Wings lineup:

Anthony ManthaDylan Larkin (A) – Tyler Bertuzzi

Thomas VanekAndreas AthanasiouGustav Nyquist

Christoffer EhnLuke GlendeningDarren Helm

Michael RasmussenJacob de La RoseJustin Abdelkader (A)

Niklas Kronwall (A) – Mike Green

Danny DeKeyserNick Jensen

Jonathan EricssonTrevor Daley

Jimmy Howard 17-15-5 — 2.74GAA/0.915% SV

Game Information:

Detroit Red Wings 23-28-7 vs. Philadelphia Flyers 26-24-7
Time: 1:00 PM EST
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV:  Fox Sports Detroit, SN, Fox Sports Go, NHL.TV, ESPN+
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
Oddshark Odds fav: Flyers -185