Faith by George Michael topped the Billboard top 100, Rain Man was about to take the American box office by storm and Flyers’ captain Mike Richards was three years old, the last time the Flyers won at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Nov. 15th, 1988.
“I was just a young player in the Flyers’ organization the last time the Flyers came in here and won,” said Flyers’ coach John Stevens. “It’s been 21 years, which is amazing. We don’t come here very often, but hopefully it gives us some motivation to get the job done.”
The fourth-place Flyers have never had a place they failed to win at more often and more recently than in the Motor City. They are 0-15-2 since their last win, but hope to change that tonight, as they take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings at 7:30 p.m. on Versus. It’s the first time in three years the Flyers visit the city.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been there,” said longest tenured Flyer, Simon Gagne. “We haven’t had a lot of success playing here. It’s a tough building to play in and it’s going to be fun to see where we’re at. It’s gonna be a great game.”
The key to the Flyers winning is getting off to a fast start. The Flyers are 20-2-2 when leading after one period and 23-1-2 when leading after two periods. But more importantly, a fast start will keep Detroit from commanding the game. The Wings are 24-1-5 when leading after the first and an amazing 32-0-5 when leading after two periods.
Getting the first couple goals will not be easy, since early periods aren’t the best offensively for the Flyers. This season, the Flyers scored a total of 55 goals in the first period, while they allowed 61. Detroit has scored a total of 72 first period goals. It is imperative that the Flyers keep the Red Wings off the board early. In their last 11 games, the Flyers have not held a lead after one period.
Another key to a Flyers’ win is keeping the Wings off the power play. Detroit thrives with the extra man and have the top man-advantage team in the league. However, the Detroit penalty kill is a real problem. Partially due to poor goaltending this season, Detroit is ranked 26th in the NHL in pk, while the Flyers’ power play is ranked 7th. Out working the Wings and connecting on the power play will make or break Philadelphia.
Goaltending has been an issue for Detroit all season. Chris Osgood has been mediocre overall, forcing backup extraordinaire Ty Conklin to log a lot of minutes. But Osgood has been better of late, winning four of five and he could be tapped to start once again to keep his streak going.
Marty Biron will be in net for the Flyers. Like Osgood, Biron is coming off his best handful of games this season. 3-1 in his last four starts, Biron has only given up five goals in those four games.