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Former Red Wing Petr Mrazek returns to Little Caesars Arena

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner /

DETROIT -- When Petr Mrazek was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers on February 19 for two conditional draft picks, it marked the end of a once-promising Red Wings career for the talented but enigmatic Czech goaltender.

On Tuesday night, Mrazek will make his first trip back to Detroit since the trade when the Flyers (37-25-11, 85 points) take on the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena (7:30 p.m. face-off).

Philadelphia currently sits third in the Metropolitan Division and appears to be destined to make the playoffs as one of the top three teams in its division or as one of the two wild cards in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers defeated the Washington Capitals, 6-3, on Sunday with Mrazek in goal. It was his fifth victory as a member of the Flyers, which is significant because if the Flyers make the playoffs, coupled with Marzek's fifth victory, it gives Detroit a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft instead of a fourth-round pick.

If Philadelphia makes it to the Eastern Conference finals and Mrazek wins six playoff games, the third-round pick becomes a second rounder.

Since the trade, Mrazek has played in 11 games with the Flyers and has posted a 5-5-1 record with a 3.14 goals-against average, an .888 save percentage and one shutout.

Much like his last two years in Detroit, Mrazek's play has been all over the board in Philadelphia. His goaltending has been evenly split between excellent, adequate and awful.

In Sunday's victory over Washington, Mrazek stopped 25 of 28 shots for a so-so .893 save percentage, but he did make several key stops which drew praise from Flyers coach Dave Hakstol.

"I thought (Mrazek) was very good," Hakstol told reporters after the game. "When you look at a back-to-back like this (Philadelphia beat Carolina, 4-2, on Saturday with Alex Lyon in goal), there's going to be some breakdowns. Your goaltender has to be front and center and I thought Petr was tonight."

For the year, Mrazek is 13-12-4, his goals-against average is 2.98 and he has a .903 save percentage with four shutouts.

With Philadelphia's No. 1 netminder Brian Elliot and his backup Michal Neuvirth still on injured reserve with lower-body injuries, Mrazek will be the Flyers' main man in net with Lyon as his backup.

Lyon has appeared in eight games. The rookie goalie is 3-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

It is expected Mrazek will get the start in net against the Wings.

Offensively, the Flyers have three players in the top 30 in the NHL in scoring.

Captain Claude Giroux leads Philadelphia with 84 points in 73 games. He has 26 goals, 58 assists, his plus-19 is second on the Flyers and his average ice time per game of 20:26 is fourth on the team and second among forwards.

Giroux's 84 points is sixth overall in the league and his face-off winning percentage of 59 percent is third in the NHL.

Jakub Voracek is second in scoring with 18 goals among his 78 points, which ranks 11th overall in the NHL. His 60 assists tops the Flyers, he's plus-9 and his ice time average is 19:32 per game.

Forward Sean Couturier is Philly's third leading scorer with 29 goals among his 68 points. His point total is 25th overall in the league.

Couturier's 29 goals leads the Flyers; he also leads his team with a plus-28 and his ice time of 21:39 is second on the team and No. 1 among Flyers forwards.

Veteran Wayne Simmonds (23 goals, 20 assists, minus-12), youngster Travis Konecny (19 goals, 22 assists, plus-16) and former Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula (11 goals, 21 assists, four game-winning goals, minus-2) have made noteworthy contributions during the season up front.

Nolan Patrick, the second overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft, has had an average rookie campaign. In 64 games, he has 10 goals among his 24 points. He is an even player and his ice time clocks in at 13:29 per game.

Patrick ranks 24th overall in rookie scoring and his three power-play goals are good for 15th among this year's rookie class.

On the back end, the Flyers are led by Shayne Gostisbehere. He has 53 points (12 goals, 41 assists, plus-8), which leads Philadelphia's defensive corps. His point total is fifth among NHL defensemen.

Gostisbehere's 21:29 average ice time per game is third-highest on the team and second on the blue line to Ivan Provorov, who leads the Flyers, averaging 24:12 per game.

Provorov is second in scoring among Philadelphia defensemen with 13 goals and 21 assists and he's a plus-12.

The Flyers blue line is rounded out by Andy MacDonald (six goals, 11 assists, plus-7, ice time average of 19:48), Brandon Manning (six goals, 10 assists, minus-1, ice time average 17:48), Radko Gudas (two goals, 13 points, 16:59 ice time average, 77 penalty minutes) and rookie defenseman Robert Hagg.  Hagg, who returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the previous four games with a lower-body injury, has been impressive. Hagg has three goals among his nine points. He's plus-7 and is averaging 18:13 of ice time per game.

Until they won Saturday and Sunday, the Flyers had won only one of their previous eight contests, which is not really a surprise.

Over the course of the season, the Flyers have lost 10 games in a row, have gone 12 games in a row without a regulation loss and finished the month of February with a 10-1-2 record, only to stumble to a 3-6-1 record thus far in March.

They have been the NHL's poster child of a team that runs hot or cold.

But heading into Detroit, the Flyers are on a two-game winning streak and have a 19-12-5 road record, which is ninth-best in the NHL. They are also determined to finish in the top three in the Metropolitan Division, but the standings are tight.

The Flyers only trail Washington by four points for first and Pittsburgh by two points for second in the Metropolitan, but Columbus is only two points behind the Flyers and New Jersey is only three points behind Philadelphia in the division.

So, the Flyers could finish anywhere from first in the Metropolitan to being the second wild card team in the Eastern Conference.

Florida still has a shot to be a wild-card team. It has 77 points and four games in hand to the Flyers, but the odds are long for the Panthers to pass the Flyers, even if Philadelphia stumbles into a wild-card playoff berth.

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