NHL Hockey

Flyers, Red Wings jockeying for position

The Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers share a common bond. Both are battling to grab an Eastern Conference playoff position, although the Flyers are doing a much better job of it than the Red Wings.

The Flyers come to Detroit for Tuesday's game at Little Caesars Arena riding a three-game winning streak and with seven wins in their last eight games, a run that has put them back into a playoff position for the first time in two months.

The Flyers have proven to be a streaky team all season long. They enjoyed a six-game winning streak earlier this season, but also endured a 10-game losing skid. Since that slide ended, they are an impressive 15-5-1.

"Early in the season, that was one of the issues: We just didn't find a way," Flyers captain Claude Giroux told "We were playing good hockey, but we just didn't find ways. Right now, we're finding ways, and we can't stop here."

Locating consistency has proven to be the biggest challenge all season long for the Red Wings. Monday's 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils was just their second win in the last six games, but both of those victories were recorded via shutout.

The season is steadily getting away from the Wings, who last season missed the playoffs for the first time since 1989-90 but look headed for a repeat performance in terms of a postseason absence. A mediocre 8-7 in the last 15 games, the Wings find themselves eight points behind the New York Rangers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card position and 12 points in arrears to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third and final Atlantic Division postseason berth.

"I don't think about whether things are slipping away," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told "I think about what you have to do to make sure we're in the playoff hunt, and what we have to do is win games and certainly there's an urgency to win now. There's no question about that.

"Is there a level of urgency that continues to increase as you continue to move through the year and you're not moving up the standings? For sure. We need a run. We need to win three out of four, win three out of four, win three out of four."

Knowing they can't fix their scenario in a game or two, the Wings have opted to take the approach that no news is good news. The team used to have a board posted in the dressing room with up-to-date NHL standings. That was removed during last season and maintained its absence when they relocated from Joe Louis Arena to their new digs for this season.

"I figured it out a few years ago," Detroit left winger Tomas Tatar said. "We won I think four in a row and we didn't move anywhere, so that's when it gets to you that it's almost pointless to look at it.

"You have to pick up your points and make sure you know what points will get you in the playoffs."

Updated January 23, 2018

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