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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #54: Three things to watch for against Philadelphia

It’s been a tough year for the Red Wings. So much so that most are numb to the fact that Detroit has lost eight consecutive games. Not even the first or second longest losing streak of the season. Their performances in the home-and-home series with the Rangers weren’t overly inspiring, either.

They’ll have another opportunity to stop the bleeding with the Flyers in town tonight. The game being nationally televised will give the world another look at what this team exactly is. As bad as the record is, the team in the locker room has to believe they’re better than this.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

Following yesterday’s practice, head coach Jeff Blashill revealed Filip Zadina will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a lower body injury. That’s a big blow to this lineup as Zadina has been one of the top contributors since being recalled. Luckily, Andreas Athanasiou returned from injury just in time. He’ll replace Zadina on the top-line, skating with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.

Also missing in action is Frans Nielsen. The veteran center will miss his second game in a row. Luke Glendening is filling in as the third-line center.

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Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers own one of the deepest center cores in the NHL. Sean Couturier might be the best two-way player in the league, Claude Giroux has long been a dynamic offensive threat, and Kevin Hayes has the ideal size and skill combination to drive a line. Hayes in particular, while at a hefty price tag, was the Flyers big offseason addition.

Also a new piece to this Flyers lineup is Joel Farabee. The B.U. product has seven goals and 18 points in 42 games with the big club. He compliments linemates Jakub Voracek and Couturier quite well.

Three Thoughts

1.) Zadina out, Athanasiou in

The Zadina news sucks, pretty simple. Not just for the coaching staff trying to patch up the lineup, but for the fans who want to see the Red Wings next star play. The rookie winger has produced eight goals and 15 points in 28 games. After sitting out of the Griffins game on Jan. 25, he apparently played through the injury on Saturday. The clip below could have contributed to the reaggravation:

However, the silver lining here is the return of Athanasiou. While it hasn’t been a great year for Double-A, he is still an important piece to the lineup. His speed and creativity will mesh well on the top-line. He and Larkin formed some chemistry last season when the two played together.

2.) Brian Elliott starting

Philadelphia is sitting their regular starter in Carter Hart for this one. Veteran netminder Brian Elliott will get the start tonight at Little Caesars Arena. The 34-year-old owns a .901 save percentage in his third season with the team. His last outing came against the Penguins where he allowed four goals on 20 shots.

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Not confirmed, but Jonathan Bernier is Detroit’s likely starter. Bernier was the Red Wings best player on Saturday, allowing just one goal and keeping the team in the game all the way until the final buzzer.

3.) Finishing off chances

The past Rangers game, while a losing effort, could have very well been a different result. Unfortunately, the Red Wings failed to convert on several grade-A chances. Credit to Henrik Lundqvist, who played out of his mind, but there were opportunities to score. Valtteri Filppula missed a wide open net, Dylan Larkin couldn’t score on a partial breakaway or a wide open net, and the puck hopped over Robby Fabbri’s stick in the dying seconds.

For today’s contest, those flubs can’t continue. The Flyers have plenty of scoring threats to run up the score. With a below-average goaltender starting for the Flyers, the Red Wings will have to convert on their high-danger scoring chances.