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Flyers-Red Wings: Game 79 Preview

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Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

They are all playoff games for the Flyers, but Wednesday night's game might as well be the Super Bowl.

For two playoff hopefuls yet to lock in a spot, Wednesday night is a head-to-head showdown that will have one team on the cusp of clinching and another on the bubble. The Philadelphia Flyers (39-26-13) have played well to get to this point, but wear and tear start to set in soon enough. With four games in the final five days of the season, this is where they must dig deep.

The Detroit Red Wings (40-28-11) are looking to extend a 24-year playoff streak that defines the history of the Original Six franchise. Missing the playoffs for this team isn't an option given that history, and with home ice and three games to go, they will be extra motivated to take care of business.

Faceoff between the Flyers and Red Wings is set for 8 p.m.

Flyers Leaders GP G A P Red Wigns Leaders GP G A P
Claude Giroux 75 22 44 66 Pavel Datsyuk 63 16 32 48
Wayne Simmonds 78 29 28 57 Henrik Zetterberg 79 13 35 48
Brayden Schenn 76 25 31 56 Dylan Larkin 77 23 22 45
Jakub Voracek 69 11 42 53 Tomas Tatar 78 21 24 45
Shayne Gostisbehere 60 16 27 43 Gustav Nyquist 79 17 25 42
 
Player to Watch
17 Wayne Simmonds 15 Riley Sheahan
Last 5 Games: 4 G, 2 A, 6 P, E Last 5 Games: 2 G, 2 A, 4 P, +4
 
If you're looking for goals, look at Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds has four goals in his last four games and six points in that time. Needing just one goal to reach 30 for the season and a new career-high in goals, looks for Simmonds to be around the net constantly on Wednesday.
 
Much like the Flyers, goal scoring comes at a premium at this time with defense being a primary focus. Riley Sheahan has been among the Red Wings most dangerous scorers of late. With four points in his last five games, tied for most on the team in that stretch, look for Sheahan to be in scoring areas.
 
Goalie Matchup
35 Steve Mason 35 Jimmy Howard
22-18-9, 2.53 GAA, .918 SV% 13-12-5, 2.81 GAA, .906 SV%

Steve Mason continues to try to carry the Flyers to the playoffs. He makes another start in goal, this time looking to rebound from a loss. Mason had been excellent in three straight wins for the Flyers last week, and will need that kind of performance on Wednesday in Detroit.

Jimmy Howard has been the Red Wings go-to guy in net of late and he's kept them right on pace with the Flyers. Howard has wins in three of his last four games, allowing two goals in all of them. His only loss in those four games came in relief, when he replaced Petr Mrazek in Montreal, but still took the loss after allowing two third-period goals. This is only his 35th appearance of the season.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Scratches: Scott LaughtonAndrew MacDonald, R.J. Umberger, Jordan WealMichael Del Zotto

Left Wing Center Right Wing
10 Brayden Schenn 28 Claude Giroux 17 Wayne Simmonds
12 Michael Raffl 14 Sean Couturier 89 Sam Gagner
93 Jake Voracek 52 Nick Cousins 24 Matt Read
76 Chris VandeVelde 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare 25 Ryan White
Defense    
23 Brandon Manning 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
55 Nick Schultz 32 Mark Streit  
82 Evgeny Medvedev 3 Radko Gudas  
Goalie    
35 Steve Mason    

Andrew MacDonald's status for Wednesday's game is unknown after suffering an upper-body injury on Sunday, but he did travel with the team and practiced on Tuesday after originally being ruled out Wednesday. If MacDonald can't go, Evgeny Medvedev will go back into the lineup.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (T-14th, T-11th on road), Red Wings (11th, 24th at home)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (22nd, 17th on road), Red Wings (15th, 9th at home) 
  • Recent History vs. Red Wings
    • Jan. 18, 2016 - The Flyers defeated the Red Wings, 2-1, in a shootout in Detroit. Claude Giroux scored early in the third to tie the game. Shayne Gostisbehere appeared to score in the final seconds, but the goal was disallowed for goalie interference and the game would go to overtime and eventually a shootout. Pavel Datsyuk scored for Detroit first in the shootout, but Giroux and Jake Voracek each scored in the final two rounds to seal a win for the Flyers. Michal Neuvirth made 29 saves in the win. 
    • March 16, 2016 - The Flyers defeated the Red Wings, 4-3, in Philadelphia. The Flyers roared out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds. Andreas Athanasiou scored early in the second to cut the lead to one, but Raffl's second goal gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead. Pavel Datsyuk made it a one-goal game again. Shayne Gostisbehere scored with 1:07 left in the second to again restore the two-goal lead and the Flyers held off a late rally from Detroit, including a goal by Tomas Tatar with 3:46 to play. Steve Mason made 34 saves in the win.
  • Flyers leaders vs. Red Wings
    • Claude Giroux - 13 games, 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points
    • Michael Raffl - 8 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points
    • Jake Voracek - 26 games, 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points
    • Steve Mason - 25 games, 12-11-2, 2.76 GAA, .919 Sv%

Where to Watch
TV: NBCSN
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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