When the Flyers host the Detroit Red Wings in their latest critical game Tuesday, rookie coach Dave Hakstol will have a difficult goalie decision: Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth?
Mason is 3-0-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average in his last four starts, but he is coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to Florida. Neuvirth, who has recovered from a stomach virus, played brilliantly in a 2-1 shootout win in Detroit on Jan. 17.
The fact that Mason didn't practice as long as Neuvirth on Monday seems to indicate he will get the nod Tuesday. Hakstol would not commit to his starter.
"I've always got a tough decision there," he said after practice in Voorhees. "It's a position of strength. Both guys have done such a good job for us. We'll take all the factors into account that are in play, and we'll decide who's in the net."
The Red Wings "play fast in a lot of areas," Hakstol said. "They play an outstanding team game. . . . There's not much time and space on the ice against this team. They're outstanding in their gaps."
Detroit (34-24-11), which dropped a 1-0 decision to Toronto on Sunday, has lost four of its last six games.
The Flyers (32-23-12) have won 10 straight regular-season home games against Detroit since 1997.
In addition to Tuesday's home game, the Flyers will play in Detroit on April 6.
"They're a team that likes to play with puck possession," winger Brayden Schenn said. "For us, turnovers are obviously a key. If you take care of the puck, the less time guys like [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg have to play with the puck."
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who blocked 10 shots in Friday's win over Tampa Bay and sat out Saturday's shootout loss to Florida with a lower-body injury, said he was feeling better and thought he would be able to play Tuesday.
The game will match two of the league's top rookies: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (15 goals, 38 points) and Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (team-high 20 goals, 40 points). . . . Detroit is calling up winger Anthony Mantha, 21, who will make his NHL debut. He had 21 goals this season for Grand Rapids in the AHL.