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Wednesday Night Rivalry

Red Wings, Flyers set for Wednesday Night Rivalry

Up-tempo offense, defensive struggles make Philadelphia, Detroit among reasons to watch

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

The Detroit Red Wings have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons. To make it 26 in a row, they'll need to win games like their Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

The Red Wings have sandwiched two sets of back-to-back losses around a six-game winning streak that has lifted them into second place in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers have been inconsistent but entertaining; they are 4-5-1 and entered November averaging 3.50 goals per game but allowing 3.80, next-to-last in the NHL.

Here are five reasons to watch this week's edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry:

 

Racehorse hockey

The Flyers' young defensemen have made them one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NHL. They're a big reason the Flyers ended October third in the NHL in goals per game. But the excitement generated by young players such as Shayne Gostisbehere (23), Brandon Manning (26) and Ivan Provorov (19) has come at a price: The Flyers allowed 38 goals in 10 games during October, the most in the NHL. And since the Red Wings allow 32.5 shots per game, fifth-most in the League entering play Tuesday, don't be surprised if there are lots of scoring chances for each team.

Video: PHI@CAR: Gostisbehere opens scoring with PPG

One reason games involving the Flyers are so high-scoring is their special teams play. The Flyers are 11-for-40 (27.5 percent) on the power play but have allowed eight goals in 33 times shorthanded (75.8 percent). 

 

Faster Wings

One of the Red Wings' goals during the offseason was to add speed. The signing of free agent center Frans Nielsen and the full-time arrival of forward Andreas Athanasiou has helped rev them up. They also have second-year forward Dylan Larkin, who won the fastest skater competition at last season's NHL All-Star Weekend, as well as center Darren Helm and forward Luke Glendening. Add it all together and the Red Wings have become one of the League's fastest teams.

 

Bouncing back

The Flyers made the playoffs last season despite disappointing seasons from forwards Jakub Voracek and Matt Read, but each has rebounded with fast starts in 2016-17. Voracek dropped to 55 points last season after he was fourth in the League with 81 in 2014-15. In 10 games this season he has five goals and 10 points. Read had 24 goals as a rookie in 2011-12 and 22 in 2013-14 but had a combined 19 the past two seasons. He's rediscovered his scoring touch in the early going this season, with five goals in 10 games.

 

Howard's renaissance

Jimmy Howard lost his spot as the Red Wings' No. 1 goaltender last season when he struggled and Petr Mrazek got hot. Mrazek has started seven of the Red Wings' 10 games this season, but Howard's play is sure to earn him more playing time. He's allowed three goals in four games (three starts) and has made 110 saves on 113 shots (.973 save percentage). Howard put on a goaltending clinic the last time the Red Wings played in a Wednesday Night Rivalry game, making 32 saves in a 2-1 defeat of the New York Rangers on Oct. 19. He made 35 saves in a 1-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. 

Video: BOS@DET: Howard makes sliding save, gloves puck

 

Nightmare on Broad Street

The Red Wings were 4-1 winners in their first visit to the building now known as Wells Fargo Center, on Jan. 25, 1997. They also won the first two games of the 1997 Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia. Since then they have yet to win another game in the city, losing 11 straight visits, all in regulation, and have been outscored 48-20. The Red Wings have lost close games (six of the 11 losses have been by one goal, another was a two-goal loss that included an empty-net goal) and blowouts (four losses by five goals each).

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