Washington Capitals (36-13-5) vs Philadelphia Flyers (29-18-7)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||20-10-4||3.08 / .897 / 0|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Brian Elliott||13-6-4||2.89 / .900 / 2|
After three days off, the Washington Capitals are looking for a win against former Capital Matt Niskanen and his Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers defeated the Capitals back on January 8th by a score of 3-2. However, that was just the first loss Washington had suffered in six consecutive meetings with the Flyers (mcubed).
On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 4-2, in a game they probably shouldn’t have won. Both the Capitals and the Kings received first period power plays, but neither converted. The most notable event of the evening was the call-up of defenseman Martin Fehervary, who slid into the lineup in place of Jonas Siegenthaler, and Vitek Vanecek, who served as the backup to starting goaltender Braden Holtby. Jeff Carter got the Kings on the board just past the 15-minute mark of the first period. The remainder of the first frame was fairly uneventful. John Carlson ended an 18-game scoreless streak as he tied the game with his 14th of the season, seven minutes and 25 seconds into the middle period. The Capitals played a lazy game against the Kings, which was disappointing, since it’s the Kings, but one could assert that it was a bit of a wake-up call. Jeff Carter tallied his second of the game and 16th of the season 11 minutes and 33 seconds into the third period, all but guaranteeing a second straight Washington loss. The Capitals essentially wasted two full periods of play, and it was to be determined if a free All-Fan Giveaway would even make up for it. Washington was held to just 12 shots on goal through 40 minutes, six in each period. But let’s not ignore the fact that Alex Ovechkin put up three goals in five minutes to bring home the win for the Capitals. His three goals came at the 13:50 mark of the third, 70 seconds later at exactly 15:00, and his third, an empty-net goal at the 18:14 mark. The hat-trick marked Ovechkins’ 27th of his career. More impressively, however, is the fact that the Caps’ captain has three hat-tricks in six games, and 16 goals in 10 games. To offer some perspective, the Great 8 had the same number of goals in 10 games, as the entire Detroit Red Wings team had in that same amount of time (Dylan Larkin scored twice on Thursday, so this factoid is no longer valid, though still impressive). With his 38th, 39th, and 40th of the season, Ovechkin is just two goals away from the 700 mark. Can Alex reach, or possibly even surpass, that milestone versus the Flyers?
Braden Holtby earned his second win in three games, but just his third in 11 starts. After allowing just two goals against on 31 shots, Holtby ended his night with a .935 save percentage. Holtby will start for the Capitals.
The Philadelphia Flyers lost to the New Jersey Devils after being shutout 5-0 on Thursday night. Surprisingly, the Flyers have been very good versus the division, as they are 9-3-4 within the Metro. Compared to the Capitals who are just 9-8-1, the Capitals will need to play for their lives to improve that record. For another consecutive year, the Flyers boast the best face-off percentage in the league (53.5%). Both Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux break the top five best face-off guys in the league. Couturier leads the team in assists (33) and points (46) and tallied three assists versus the Colorado Avalanche on the first of February. He is however, compared to his 2018-19 season, underperforming, with just 13 goals in 53 games (TheScore). For Ivan Provorov, six of his nine goals have come on the power play (NHL). For a defenseman who average nearly 25 minutes TOI per game, leading his team, Provorov is poised to set a career high in points, or at least come close. Just thirteen seconds into the first period, Blake Coleman, on the Devils’ first shot of the game, gave New Jersey a very early 1-0 lead. Coleman’s goal was the first the Flyers had allowed in the first period in six games. Damon Severson improved the Devils’ lead to 2-0 on the power play, with Kevin Hayes in the penalty box. The Flyers received three power plays through three periods, but with PK Subban in the box for tripping, Pavel Zacha scored short-handed. Devils 3-0, 71 seconds into the final frame. Miles Wood made it 4-0 New Jersey shortly thereafter with his 9th of the season. Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault elected to pull Brian Elliott for Alex Lyon to finish the period. Three shots turned into three goals as Miles Wood scored his 2nd of the period, making it 5-0, New Jersey. Philadelphia severely outshot the Devils, but MacKenzie Blackwood had a lights-out performance to earn his 16th win of his season. Blackwood stopped 46 of 46 shots, whereas Brian Elliott allowed four goals on 17 shots, and Lyon, one goal on two shots to finish the game. Brian Elliott is slated to start for the Flyers.
The Philadelphia Flyers are without Samuel Morin (DL, knee), Carter Hart (OUT, abdomen), Nolan Patrick (IR-NR, head), and Joel Farabee (OUT-illness). For the Capitals, this should come as a relief to Caps’ fans. After taking a puck to the face the other day, Ilya Samsonov left morning skate as a precautionary measure, and the Capitals recalled Vitek Vanecek from the Hershey Bears. Early Wednesday morning, Vanecek was re-assigned to Hershey, indicating that Samsonovs’ injury was not considered severe. Fehervary, however, did not dress for the Hershey Bears in their most recent game, and was recalled back to Washington early Saturday. Nick Jensen will be the healthy scratch, as Fehervary fills in on the second defensive pair.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.
ESPN.com. (2020). 2019-20 NHL Hockey Stats and League Leaders – Faceoffs. Retrieved from http://proxy.espn.com/nhl/statistics/player?stat=faceoffs&sort=faceoffPercent.
HockeyReference. (2020). Alex Ovechkin Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/o/ovechal01.html.
Mcubed. (2020). NHL : Series records : Washington Capitals against Philadelphia Flyers. Retrieved from http://mcubed.net/nhl/wsh/phi.shtml.
NHL.com. (2020). Ivan Provorov News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/ivan-provorov-8478500.
TheScore. (2020). Philadelphia Flyers News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/9.