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Flyers to retire Howe's number, face banged-up Wings

by Adam Kimelman
RED WINGS (43-20-3) at FLYERS (36-21-7)


Last 10:
Detroit 6-3-1; Philadelphia 5-5-0

Season series: This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season.  On Feb. 12, Johan Franzen broke a 3-3 tie with a goal 52 seconds into the third period as the Red Wings won 4-3 at Joe Louis Arena.

Big Story: Can Ilya Bryzgalov follow his tremendous start Sunday against the Capitals with another big effort? Or will the Red Wings be extra motivated knowing two points could be the difference between first place and fourth in the Western Conference?

Team Scope:

Red Wings: His team might be ravaged by injuries, but rather than dwell on the negatives, Detroit coach Mike Babcock only sees opportunity.

The Wings called up three players from AHL Grand Rapids -- defenseman Doug Janik, forward Chris Conner and goalie Jordan Pearce -- and all three will dress for Tuesday's game.

Among the players out of the lineup Tuesday will be Detroit's star center (Pavel Datsyuk), its future Hall of Fame defenseman (Nicklas Lidstrom) and its No. 1 goalie (Jimmy Howard).

In speaking with reporters Monday, Babcock stressed that he sees Tuesday's game as a chance for a few players to show what they can do with increased ice time or just the chance to play in the NHL.

Janik will replace Jakub Kindl, who was injured early in Sunday's game against Chicago, while Conner will skate in place of Todd Bertuzzi, who has been bothered by a groin injury. Pearce was recalled as a backup to MacDonald while Howard nurses a lower-body injury.

"The reality is that you go through lots of things through the year," Babcock said. "You've got to suck it up and get back to it."

Flyers: Watching from his perch in the Verizon Center press box Sunday, Philadelphia goalie coach Jeff Reese knew early on Ilya Bryzgalov was going to turn in a strong performance.

He was right, as Bryzgalov, minus two of his top defensemen and with two others still getting used to their new home, stopped all 34 shots he faced in a 1-0 Flyers victory against the Washington Capitals.

"That was his best game as a Flyer," Reese told the Philadelphia Daily News. "There's no question about it. It's just a confidence thing. The environment, everything around him, he's starting to feel more comfortable."

Bryzgalov recently has brushed off all questions about his confidence or comfort in his first season in Philadelphia, but the numbers show he's playing better.

He's 4-2-0 in his last six games, and has allowed just eight goals in his last four games.

"He seems like he's really starting to feel comfortable," coach Peter Laviolette said. "The saves we needed him to make … he did a nice job."

Who's Hot: Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula has 4 goals and 7 points in his last four games. … Bryzgalov has allowed just four goals in his last three games.

Injury Report:
The Red Wings are a beat-up group. Datsyuk (knee), Lidstrom (ankle), Howard (groin), Bertuzzi (groin), Kindl (upper body) and Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) are all out. … The Flyers will be without defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros due to lower-body injuries. Forward James van Riemsdyk will have surgery Tuesday morning on his broken foot, and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Stat Pack:
The Wings have lost six straight regular-season games in Philadelphia. Their last win in the city was Jan. 25, 1997. Detroit did win the first two games of the 1997 Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia.

Puck Drop:
It will be an emotional celebration before the game, as the Flyers retire Mark Howe's No. 2. Howe spent 10 seasons with the Flyers, helping the team to trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987, and enjoying the best seasons of his career. He spent the final three seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Red Wings, and currently works for the team as Director of Pro Scouting.

Howe called it a continuation of what already has been a wonderful season for him. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, and now will get to see his jersey become only the fifth one retired by the Flyers. He'll join Bernie Parent (No. 1), Barry Ashbee (No. 4), Bill Barber (No. 7) and Bobby Clarke (No. 16).

"To be singled out from the players that played in the 1980s and to be put up in the rafters with (Parent, Clarke and Bill) … I look up to those guys and I have a lot of respect for them," Howe said. "They set the standard for what it means to be a Flyer. For me to have my jersey number up there with them speaks volumes for me. It is a great honor."

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