Flyers vs. Red Wings Preview
DETROIT, MI (AP) - A stunning loss to one of the NHL's weakest teams marked the close of 2010 for the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings.
They'd like to begin the new year by extending a home unbeaten streak against one of the league's best that dates back nearly 23 years.
The Red Wings will try to push their unbeaten run over the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena to 19 games on Sunday in their lone regular-season meeting.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Red Wings -140 money line favorites for Sunday's game against the Flyers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 54% of more than 4,438 bets for this game have been placed on the Flyers +129.
Returning home for a New Year's Eve matchup against the New York Islanders appeared to give Detroit (24-9-5) an ideal opportunity to extend its winning streak to four. Instead, Jimmy Howard allowed P.A. Parenteau's goal 3:57 into overtime to send the Red Wings to a 4-3 loss.
The Islanders rank 29th among the league's 30 teams, but Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom praised them nonetheless.
"They hung around and played well defensively," Lidstrom said. "They just waited for their opportunities and it paid off for them in the end."
The Red Wings own the largest lead of any division leader - six points over St. Louis - and also have one of the NHL's best home records at 13-4-4.
That doesn't bode well for a Philadelphia team playing the fourth of a five-game road trip. The Red Wings haven't lost at home to the Flyers since Nov. 4, 1988, going 16-0-0 with two ties and includes two wins in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals.
The Flyers (23-10-5), who are jockeying with Pittsburgh for the lead in the Atlantic, have not played well recently. Philadelphia won five in a row from Dec 9-18, but have since dropped three of four and allowed 20 goals in that span.
Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 22 of 27 shots Friday in a 5-2 loss at Anaheim against a short-handed Ducks team missing captain Ryan Getzlaf to injury. One night earlier, Philadelphia posted a 7-4 win over Los Angeles, but appeared listless against southern California's other team and trailed 3-0 less than six minutes into the second period.
"I don't like the way we played," coach Peter Laviolette said. "The second period was nonchalant and flat for us."
Detroit is without two of its top players in Danny Cleary (broken ankle) and Pavel Datsyuk (broken hand) until roughly the end of the month. However, if the Flyers are to end their woes in the Motor City, they must find a way to stop Henrik Zetterberg.
Zetterberg has three goals and seven assists during a six-game points streak in which the Red Wings have gone 4-1-1. He had two goals and two assists - half of his eight career points versus Philadelphia - in a 6-3 home victory over the Flyers in January 2006.
Howard, the NHL leader with 20 wins, has never faced the Flyers. Chris Osgood, who earned his 400th career win Monday in Colorado, has alternated wins and losses in his last eight games against Philadelphia.
The Flyers, though, may have the offensive pieces needed to finally win in Michigan. So far on the road trip, Jeff Carter has three goals and two assists, Danny Briere and captain Mike Richards each have two goals and two assists, and Claude Giroux has four assists.
Philadelphia's Michael Leighton, who made his season debut in the victory over the Kings, has allowed four goals while winning his last three starts against the Red Wings, but has not faced them since February 2007.