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Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings

Sunday, 02.29.2004 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings
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GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (33-15-12-6) at Detroit Red Wings (36-17-9-2).

TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.

As far as Detroit general manager Ken Holland is concerned, when a team has a chance to get a player as good as Robert Lang, it should do so with no questions asked.

Lang, second in the NHL in scoring, will make his debut with the Red Wings when they take on the visiting Philadelphia Flyers in a matchup of two of the best teams in the league.

After spending nearly two disappointing seasons in Washington, Lang was dealt to the Red Wings on Friday for prospect Tomas Fleischmann and two draft choices. The 33-year-old center went from being out of the playoff race to having a chance to win his first Stanley Cup ring.

"He's a guy we've had our eye on for a long time," Holland said. "We're happy to be able to bring him here."

Lang, who has 29 goals and is one point behind Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis for the NHL lead with 74, practiced with his new teammates for the first time Saturday.

Not only will he have to get accustomed to playing important games every time he takes the ice, Lang will have to learn a new system - one that has helped Detroit to the top of the Central Division.

"It'll definitely take a little time to get used to," Lang said. "It's a puck possession team with guys moving and going all over the place. And defensively, they use the left-side lock. ... But with the caliber of player here, it won't be that hard."

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Lang skated in practice on a line with captain Steve Yzerman and Ray Whitney.

"He's a big forward who can play," Yzerman said. "Big isn't any good if you can't play. He's bigger than I thought he was."

Lang joins Detroit's other centers Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg - who can play any forward position - in a system that gives coach Dave Lewis plenty of flexibility.

"It opens up a lot of options," Lewis said. "But you have to get a feel now. For everything, not just the lines."

The Wings, who have won seven of 10, ended a two-game slide (0-1-1) with a 2-1 victory in Calgary on Thursday.

The Flyers welcomed goaltender Robert Esche back from injury Saturday, but lost 3-2 in overtime at Boston. Esche made 29 saves in his first start since Feb. 2 after missing 10 games due to a sprained left knee.

"Two weeks from now he probably would have had the third goal," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "For the first game back after missing a month, he was fine."

The Flyers have lost four of their last seven (2-3-1-1), but are tied with Ottawa for the most points in the NHL.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 84 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Red Wings - 83 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Mark Recchi, 23 goals, 39 assists and 62 points; Donald Brashear, 131 PIM. Red Wings - Datsyuk, 25 goals, 36 assists and 61 points; Brendan Shanahan, 86 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 27): Flyers - Power play: 23.6 percent (58 for 246), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (237 for 281), 16th. Red Wings - Power play: 20.8 percent (54 for 259), 4th. Penalty killing: 85.9 percent (213 for 248), 2nd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Esche (16-7-5, 2 SO, 1.94 GAA); Sean Burke (14-18-6, 1, 2.82). Red Wings - Manny Legace (15-7-4, 1, 2.05); Marc Lamothe (0-0-1, 0.92).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 11, 2003; Flyers, 3-2. At Philadelphia, Michal Handzus had a goal and assist, leading the Flyers to their sixth straight victory. Zetterberg and Brett Hull scored for the Red Wings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 13-8-10-3 on the road; Red Wings - 23-5-3-0 at home.


Associated Press
2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 29 '04PHI 2 at DET 4K. Maltby
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