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NHL on NBCSN: Streaking Flyers visit slumping Wild

Dec 2, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT

Steve Mason, Claude Giroux AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Philadelphia Flyers at XCel Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

It’s funny what a little success can do to change the outlook for a team.

The Philadelphia Flyers head into the second game of their six-game road trip on a roll. They’ve won eight of their last 11 games and have gone from one of the dregs of the Eastern Conference to being four points back of the Washington Capitals for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

All it took for the Flyers to find their stride was to see captain Claude Giroux settle down and just play hockey. While it took him quite a while to net his first goal of the season (16 games), he now leads the team in points with 18 and has four goals.

Having him step up with the way Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier have played now gives them a formidable attack to go with their great goaltending.

Wait, what? Yes, Steve Mason has been outstanding this year for Philly going 9-8-2 but with a .934 save percentage and a 2.02 goals-against average. Those numbers are better than what he put up in his rookie season and made him a Calder Trophy winner. Safe to say without Mason, the Flyers would’ve been in an even bigger hole to start than they were.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $550. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

For the Wild, things have been rough of late. They’ve lost four in a row and their offense has vanished in those games as they’ve scored just four goals in those games. Having to deal with the Colorado Avalanche in back-to-back games as well as the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues doesn’t help matters either.

For a while it seemed like they’d have to make due without Zach Parise. By “a while” we mean “one game” as he was expected to miss 2-to-3 weeks with a contusion but came back after sitting out one game.

It’s a good thing it was only that long because Parise leads the team in scoring. He along with Mikko Koivu are driving the offensive bus for the team with Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter in the mix as well.

Ryan Suter‘s is ever-present on the blue line as he’s been playing 30 minutes per game routinely and he too factors into the offense heavily.

If the Wild are going to snap their streak, they’re going to need Josh Harding or Niklas Backstrom continue to play strong in goal. Harding has been the story of the year with his play posting a .936 save percentage and a microscopic 1.56 goals-against. If he and Mason wind up squaring off, both teams could be duking it out for one goal.

  1. ibieiniid - Dec 2, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    lol the highly-commented Flyers articles are now prime Fanduel advertising space?

  2. LampyB - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Just want to say “I told you so” for the Wild’s performance. As soon as they began playing solid teams they tanked. The surge they had came from playing terrible teams, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon touting them as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. It’s easy to be awesome when playing a bunch of games against bad teams.

    • ibieiniid - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      lol dude they’re still well over a standings point per game. beating the bad teams is what you have to do to make playoffs. picking up a few Ws VS the good ones helps too. in the same vein, the Flyers need this game to shed that same image of only beating bad teams.

    • guitarhunterdude - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Partially. They have had better possession numbers, even against good teams, than they’ve had at any time in recent memory. Are they a top five team in the league? No, but they’re certainly on the rise, and should be in the 4-6 range in the west by the end of the year if they can stay healthy.

  3. pxland - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Hey!

    It’s the fan base I like the most in the NHL VS. the fan base I like the least in the NHL.

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