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Red Wings-Flyers game-day articles: Mrazek vs. Neuvirth and game-day notes

Updated 10x at 2:57 PM: The Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers held their morning skates ahead of tonight's NBCSN Rivalry Night game (8 PM EDT on NBCSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM; the Wings haven't won in Philly since 1997, over a span of 11 regular-season games), and after the Red Wings' skate, Wings coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the team's lineup to MLive's Ansar Khan...

#RedWings Blashill confirms Mrazek starting and Ouellet in for Sproul again.

And DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji:

#RedWings Blashill confirmed Mrazek in goal and Ouellet playing again.

Khan Tweeted out the Wings' lineup during the morning skate:

Same lines for #RedWings






#RedWings defense pairs:




Sproul appears to be scratched.


Petr Mrazek in starter's net for #RedWings


#RedWings power-play units: Nyquist-Zetterberg-Tatar, Abdelkader (net front), Green

& Larkin-Nielsen-Athanasiou, Sheahan (net front), Smith

While NHL.com's Adam Kimelman Tweeted the Flyers' lineup:

Flyers lines from morning skate:






Flyers defense pairs:




Schultz scratched

As the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac notes, Michal Neuvirth will start for the Flyers tonight:

Michal Neuvirth is getting a second straight start for the first time this season. The Flyers would like to see one of their two struggling goalies find a groove and coach Dave Hakstol was very impressed with Neuvirth in the third period of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes when Neuvirth made 12 of his 26 saves.

“We got some great saves from him at key times and he looked like he got himself into a bit of a groove in that period,” Hakstol said. “For us, that was a big part of the decision coming back here. I think he’s earned the start, especially with that third period.”

Last year when one goalie wasn’t at his best, the other seemed to pick things up. That hasn’t been the case so far for Neuvirth and Steve Mason, who have been pulled a total of three times in the Flyers’ first 10 games. Hakstol would like to see at least one of them find some consistency.

“There is something to that, just like with any player,” Hakstol said. “If you’re able to get into a bit of a rhythm, it’s a benefit. Performance has to dictate that as well. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg, right? Hopefully we’ll see that with Neuvy. He had a good performance a couple nights ago. He’s had a good practice day and hopefully he can continue to take a step forward tonight.”

Isaac also noted "3 things to watch" in tonight's game:

1. Team defense: Both goalies, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, don't have very good numbers this season and it isn't all their fault. The Flyers admit their team defense in front of either goalie needs some work. Keep an eye on their defensive zone exits and play in front of the net, especially if one defenseman is out of position.

“You see an opportunity for someone in one area and you kind of leave your area, your guy, and it presents another opportunity for him,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “You just have to be sure. Sometimes I think we want to be aggressive on loose pucks and when we have an opportunity to close on a guy, we have to close.”

2. Can the offense keep up? Scoring around the entire league was sky high at the beginning of the season. Entering Tuesday's action the Flyers ranked third in the league in goals per game at 3.5, higher than the league average of 2.77. It's started to go down a little bit around the league, but the Flyers have kept up scoring four goals in each of their last four games.

3. Goalie matchup: Michal Neuvirth will likely get the call for the Flyers. He has a 3-3-1 record in seven career games against the Red Wings with a 3.18 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. He will likely be faced by countryman Petr Mrazek, who has two career games against the Flyers and a 0-1-1 record to show for it with a 2.42 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.

Among the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi's "5 things to know about the Flyers today":

1. Michal Neuvirth, being rewarded for a strong third-period performance that keyed Sunday's 4-3 win in Carolina, will make back-to-back starts for the first time all season Wednesday.

2.  Claude Giroux, who has a nine-game points streak, is tied for second in the NHL in points (12), one behind Chicago's Artem Anisimov, whose team is idle tonight.


5. The Flyers, who are keeping Michael Raffl out of the lineup tonight, are aiming for their first two-game winning streak of the season; they play in Brooklyn against the Islanders on Thursday, their fourth set of back-to-back games in the season's first 20 days.

Also of note from the Flyers' "5 Things" article:

3. JUST WINGIN IT: The Red Wings dropped their first two games of the season, then went on a six-game winning streak, before dropping their last two games, being outscored, 6-2 in the process… Four of their six wins have come when they have scored the first goal… Goaltender Jimmy Howard is 2-1-0 but has an impressive 0.86 GAA and .978 save percentage so far this season… The Red Wings penalty kill has allowed just one goal in their last five games, killing off 18 of 19 times shorthanded.


THIS: The Flyers remain one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL this season, recording three straight games of four goals, and average 3.50 goals-per-game to rank tied for second in the NHL.

THAT: Red Wings leading scorer Thomas Vanek is out of tonight's game with a lower-body injury - he is tied for the team lead in goals (4) and points (8) and also has 31 points (14g-17a) in 31 games against the Flyers.

THE OTHER: The Flyers went 6-1-0 last year on NBC's Wednesday Night Rivalry, winning their first six games, and their only loss coming against the Detroit Red Wings.

Ken Kal also Tweeted out some interesting trivia:

The Red Wings did not win a game in Philadelphia from December 1971 thru November 1986 0-23-6


But they win the 2 most important games 1 & 2 in the 97 Cup Final


For what it's worth, NHL.com's Ben Zweiman is picking several Wings as good "Daily Fantasy Hockey Picks" today...

C - Frans Nielsen, DET at PHI ($4,900)

The Flyers have struggled on defense, allowing the second-most goals per game (3.80) and having the seventh-worst penalty kill (75.8 percent) in the NHL. Nielsen had two assists on the power play against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. He doesn't have great peripherals but plays enough in all situations and scored a shorthanded goal against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 27. Red Wings at Flyers projects to be the highest scoring of the three games Wednesday, and Nielsen is a cheap option who likely will be involved on offense.


W - Tomas Tatar, DET at PHI ($4,500)

The absence of Thomas Vanek has opened up a spot on the Red Wings power play for Tatar, who has seen plenty of ice time but hasn't translated it into much production. Tatar scored at least 21 goals in each of the past two seasons, so it's only a matter of time before he finds his offense. As stated above, the Flyers are the perfect remedy, having failed to stop many teams from scoring fewer than three goals. Tatar has done a decent job chipping in secondary stats with nine shots on goal and two blocked shots the past three games. The Red Wings offer plenty of cheap stack options at wing if you're looking to spend up at center and goaltender.


Update: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day article...

Petr Mrazek was pulled in his previous game, but that wasn't an indictment of his performance, more attributable to the shoddy defensive play in front of him. That's why Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is going back to Mrazek for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network exclusive), even though Jimmy Howard, who's started three of the 10 games, has better stats.

"I'd say both guys have been excellent for most of the season," Blashill said. "When you have a game like last game (5-2 loss to Florida Sunday), when you give up goals on not very many shots, it hurts your stats, but he didn't have much of a chance. We got to do a better job in front of him. In our wins, we've done a much better job of limiting opportunities, limiting rush chances for the most part, with the exception of the Rangers game (2-1 victory on Oct. 19). We got depth in goal, that's a real positive thing."

Blashill also will keep Xavier Ouellet in on defense for the second game in a row ahead of Ryan Sproul, who had played the previous five games.

"They're both good players," Blashill said. "We'd like to not have them in and out and in and out, maybe give them each a stretch of games and let them get comfortable."

He added, "Ouellet brings a different skill set. He was a pretty good partner with (Brendan Smith) last game, so let's keep him in."

Which includes a video of Blashill's game-day remarks...

As well as a clip of Petr Mrazek's game-day remarks:


Update: ESPN's Scott Burnside listed a set of players who he believes "need to get their groove back":

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

It's been a kind of a feast-or-famine start to the season for the Red Wings, as a six-game winning streak has been bookended by a pair of two-game slides through Tuesday. If Detroit is going to bring some more consistency to its game, it stands to reason that its captain will lead the way. So far it's been a difficult start for Zetterberg, though, as he has just four assists in 10 games. Zetterberg missed the World Cup of Hockey because he was still recovering from injury and is coming off of an NHL season that saw him register just 50 points, well off his career average, and finish with a minus-15 rating. The classy, 36-year-old Swede scored just once in a quiet, five-game, first-round loss to Tampa Bay last spring and is clearly struggling to find his game for a Red Wings team that many picked to miss the playoffs this season.


Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Petr Mrazek and Jeff Blashill discussing tonight's game:


Update #3: Here's St. James in text form:

Mrazek was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots Sunday, and Jimmy Howard has the better save percentage (.973) and goals-against average (0.86), but coach Jeff Blashill didn’t hesitate to go with Mrazek again.

“Both guys have been very good,” Blashill said. “I’d say both guys have been excellent for most of the season. Certainly, when you have a game like last game, where you give up goals on not very many shots, it hurts your stats, but he didn’t have much of a chance. We’ve got to do a better job in front of him. In our wins, we’ve done a much better job of limiting opportunities, limiting rush chances.”

Mrazek loves playing here, because “it’s great building to play in. Philly has a great offense. They have some good players, they go hard to the net, they throw pucks everywhere. We have to be aware of that, but I’m very excited for this game.”

Ryan Sproul is out, meaning there are no changes from the lineup that lost, 5-2, to the Florida Panthers on Sunday. The defense pairs have Danny DeKeyser with Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson with Alexey Marchenko, and Brendan Smith with Xavier Ouellet.

Up front, Frans Nielsen is with Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin, Henrik Zetterberg is with Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm with Riley Sheahan and Andreas Athanasiou and Luke Glendening with Drew Miller and Steve Ott.

The Wings have not won a regular-season game in Philadelphia since 1997.

“In the past, we’ve struggled in this building, so it’s going to be big for us to get off to a good start,” Sheahan said. “We’re looking to break that little streak of losing. It will be a fun game.”


Update #4:


Update #5: Among the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes, Jeff Blashill discussed Riley Sheahan's play:

“I’ve talked to Riley about not judging his game on his points,” Blashill said. “One hundred percent he’s a player that absolutely you can’t judge his game on his points because he brings so much more to the table. We talk about possession. Possession is when  you have the puck on your stick and sometimes you don’t get any shots but you hold on to it, hold on to it, and that’s very good defense by just holding on to it. He does a real good job of that and he adds a lot of things to the table regardless of points. He’s real good defensively. He’s played well. Would he like to have more points? Everybody would like to point more. But if his process is the same, he’ll get points.’

Sheahan feels the offensive statistics will happen if he continues to play as he has.

“As long as I’m getting chances, playing responsible, you know when you’re playing good and when you’re not playing good,” Sheahan said. “I feel I’ve been OK and comfortable with the way I’ve been going. We have guys that fill different roles like every other team. It’s nice to score points and everything when you’re getting ice time. But when you feel like you’re doing well and contributing, it’s fun to play.”

Sheahan was doing a good job of driving to the net and scoring or creating chances for linemates late last season. With his big frame, Sheahan can be a big distraction for opposing goalies and he feels that’s an area he needs to continue to thrive in.

“There are so many goalies that are so good when they see the puck,” Sheahan said. “When you can create some chaos and havoc in front of them, create rebounds or try to bang around (near the crease), it’s not fun for them and usually a puck squirts out and you can score a dirty goal.’

Kulfan continues, and he posted a short clip of Blashill speaking with the media.


Update #6: St. James posted a clilp of Blashill and Mrazek discussing Jeff Salajko's impact as a goalie coach:


Update #7: CSN Philly's Tom Dougherty spoke with the Flyeres regarding their streak of wins over the Red Wings:

"Guys that I (have) talked to say it's one of the toughest places to play," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "Fans are nuts here. They're on our side, so we like it."

"I don't know," Simmonds added. "We're generally a good home team ever since I've been here. This is my sixth season here. We've always had a really strong home record. We've had that problem with (the) New York (Rangers) for three, four years until the last couple years and then we started winning there. It changes around a little bit."

This Detroit team isn't the '97 Red Wings, who ended up sweeping the orange and black in the Stanley Cup Final. Accounting for the postseason, the last time the Red Wings won in Philly was June 7, 1997, in Game 4 of the Cup final. Still, that's about two decades.

The Red Wings no longer have Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg is on the tail end of his career. There are new stars in Detroit — Gustav Nyquist leading the way. Thomas Vanek appears to have rejuvenated his career in Hockey Town. Detroit has enjoyed a solid start to its season, going 6-4 in its first 10 games.

What's the biggest challenge the Red Wings pose?

"You see a lot of team speed with the way they play," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "If there's one thing I would pick out is they're playing fast. They have some fast players. Overall, they play a fast game both directions. You have to be ready, you got to be awful sharp defensively, but I think even more so, you have to be sharp with the puck."


Update #8: Among the Flyers' "5 Things" to watch regarding tonight's game:

4. Keep an eye on …Flyers: Claude Giroux will be going for a new personal best. The Flyers’ captain has a point in nine straight games, tying the longest streak of his career. His 12 points this season are tied for second most in the NHL with the likes of Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid.

Red Wings: Longtime Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg is without a goal through 10 games, but in 16 career contests against the Flyers, the 36-year-old has 10 markers and eight helpers.

5. This and that • Michal Neuvirth will start in net for the Flyers. The 28-year-old is coming off his first full game since the Oct. 14 season opener. Neuvirth is 3-3-1 lifetime against Detroit with a 3.18 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.

• Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek was yanked from his last start after yielding four goals on 10 shots. In two career games against the Flyers, he’s 0-1-1 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.

• Detroit had won six straight before losing its last two games by a combined score of 6-2.


Update #9: The Hockey News's Ken Campbell has the Wings ranked 15th in his weekly power rankings.


Update #10: Among DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji's notes:

GIVANI'S IDOL: When the Wings drafted Givani Smith in the second round, 46th overall, this past summer, Smith said his hockey idol was Simmonds.

Simmonds said he met Smith over the summer in Toronto.

"We're from the same hometown, so we got connected there," Simmonds said. "I did a couple skates with him. We were both doing a kind of mentoring role at a youth hockey camp and we met up there. It was pretty good. He's a great kid, he's got a good head on his shoulders and he's going to be a heck of a player, the way he plays the game. He plays the game the right way. I actually really love the way he plays."

At the draft, Smith said he loved the way Simmonds plays. "The way he just plays his game out there, he's a force on the ice and he's scoring goals right in front of the net and that's where I'm going to score goals," Smith said at the draft. "He's a good skater, likes to finish checks. He's not scared to fight and that's something I admire about Wayne."

Simmonds, who is tied for second in the league in goals with six (Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Chicago's Artem Anisimov both have seven), was flattered to hear of Smith's admiration.

"That's an honor to hear someone say that," Simmonds said. "I guess I don't really realize how long I've actually played in this league. This is my ninth year now. To have kids growing up saying that they want to play like me, I think it's really cool. It's really humbling and just makes me want to keep going."

Smith has seven goals, seven assists and 34 penalty minutes in 14 games for the Guelph Storm this season.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



“I’ve talked to Riley about not judging his game on his points,” Blashill said. “One hundred percent he’s a player that absolutely you can’t judge his game on his points because he brings so much more to the table.

Um.. what? Isn’t it his “great” that’s all we’ve been hearing about for the past 2 years?

Posted by George0211 on 11/02/16 at 02:20 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

“I’ve talked to Riley about not judging his game on his points,” Blashill said. “One hundred percent he’s a player that absolutely you can’t judge his game on his points because he brings so much more to the table.

So we dont judge Tatar on points; we dont judge Neilsen on points; and now we dont judge Sheahan on points.

Who exactly do we expect to score then, Blash?

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 11/02/16 at 02:51 PM ET


So far I do not see what Sheahan brings to the table this season that Blashill is OK with lack of points.

Posted by VPalmer on 11/02/16 at 03:19 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

I don’t understand Oullett playing over Sproul.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 11/02/16 at 04:49 PM ET


“I’ve talked to Riley about not judging his game on his points,” Blashill said. “One hundred percent he’s a player that absolutely you can’t judge his game on his points because he brings so much more to the table

I was a huge believer in Blashill when he was hired, but at this point I’ve become one of those that cringes every time he opens his mouth. I really think he’s in over his head.

Posted by Steve in SE MI on 11/02/16 at 04:49 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.