Five keys to victory for Wings vs. Flyers

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jimmy Howard

Ted Kulfan provides the five keys to victory for the Red Wings in their crucial game against the Flyers Wednesday.

Get the crowd in early

Joe Louis Arena will be rocking like rarely it does for a regular season game.

But this isn’t just any regular season game.

Because of the playoff implications, this Red Wings-Flyers game is essentially a playoff game,   the winner taking a major step towards the postseason  and the loser likely sitting at home.

The crowd will be loud and ready right from the drop of the puck.

The Red Wings need to keep them involved and revved with a good start, something that always hasn’t been a given with this team over the last month.

Power play has to stay hot

A source of disappointment and frustration the entire season, the Red Wings’ power play is suddenly a difference-maker.

Brad Richards’ goal Saturday on the power play extended a streak of eight consecutive games the Red Wings have scored at least one man-advantage goal.

What’s been the difference?

The unit is much more aggressive, getting the puck on net, and there consistently appears to be a net-front presence, making the opposing goalie’s life more difficult.

The Wings are keeping the puck in the zone, the passing is crisp, and the unit is playing with more confidence.

Success on the power play often translates into victories.

Wings' power play living up to expectations

Contain Shayne Gostisbehere

Quite a few rookies are in contention for the Calder Trophy, including the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin.

But Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has been a revelation, particularly in the second half of the season as the Flyers have surged upward in the Eastern Conference standings.

A terrific skater with outstanding vision on the ice, Gostisbehere can make things happen when the puck is on his stick.

The Red Wings need to keep him contained, especially on the power play, where Gostisbehere can be dangerous on a unit with several dynamic players.

Someone step up

In a pivotal game like this, each team's often the stars cancel each other out.

So it’s up to someone unexpected, maybe a secondary player, who steps up and makes a big play, scores an important goal, and makes a huge impact in the victory.

But if there is a “star” that could be an impact player during this evening, keep on eye on Pavel Datsyuk.
Will this Datsyuk’s final home game at Joe Louis Arena?

Blashill: Wings need to live in moment of crucial game

There’s that possibility after reports surfaced last weekend Datsyuk is considering returning to Russia at the conclusion of this season.

Datsyuk wouldn’t commit either way while talking ot media Monday.

Goalie has to be good

Jimmy Howard has been very good for the Red Wings lately.

Almost forgotten in January and February as Petr Mrazek took control of the starter’s job, Howard has re-emerged while Mrazek has slumped over the last month.

Howard has plenty of playoff and big game regular season experience. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.

The Red Wings might have the right man at the right time to have in net in this particular game.