The Capitals have hit the 15-game mark in the 2015-16 NHL campaign and they are still among the NHL’s best in the Metropolitan Division and in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals are on the road for a brief 2-game trip, which conclude Thursday night in Philthydelphia. The Caps suffered a 1-0 defeat in Motown on Tuesday night, in a game that they could have actually been blown out in.
In a game where Alex Ovechkin‘s mentor and former teammate Sergei Fedora was being honored for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Capitals Captain came out guns blazing. It is unfortunate that some of Ovechkin’s teammates did not come to Motown with the same intensity. Braden Holtby was spectacular in goal for the Caps even though the goal he let in he probably could have stopped.
While the game in Detroit ended up being a bummer for the Caps, the Caps are still in a good position in the Metropolitan Division. They are only four points behind the NY Rangers, but the Caps do have a game in hand. Now, the Capitals have a major test with arch rival Philly, who has had their number in recent matchups.
The games between the Flyers and Capitals have the potential to be physical and chippy. Check out this big hit by Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen on Flyers forward Scott Laughton last season:
and from the previous season, Wilson’s blasting of Brayden Schenn (ultimately deemed legal by the NHL)
and the year before that, the infamous line brawl:
The Capitals went 1-3 against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014-15.
This is the first of four meetings between the Capitals and Flyers this season. They will not see each other again until January 27 when the Flyers come to DC.
SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
The Flyers are in the middle of a rebuild under GM Ron Hextall. They have a new bench boss this year with Dave Hakstol, who came from the college ranks at North Dakota.
The Flyers have one of the best duos in the NHL on their top line with forwards Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Voracek has struggled to get going so far in 2015-16, as he has not scored a goal yet in the first 15 games.
Goaltending has actually been a bright spot in Philly in recent memory. The Flyers have a 1A/1B setup going, as Steve Mason and former Capital Michal Neuvirth have split the goaltending duties. Neuvirth has been outstanding for the Flyers, as he has registered 3 wins, 2.08 goals against average, and .939 save percentage.
While the Flyers have lost a bit of their “Broad Street Bully” attitude, they are a team that cannot be overlooked. The Flyers play in front of one of the most passionate hockey crowds in the entire league, and they will be loud and proud no matter if they are winning or losing.
WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
The Capitals could have performed better in Detroit as a group. Alex Ovechkin did all he could as he played like a man possessed, but the rest of the Capitals did not pull their weight.
Barry Trotz attempted the “Swede” line, as he decided to put Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom, and Marcus Johansson together. This line did not perform well, and they should probably be split up from each other in future games.
While in Detroit, the Capitals blueline took a blow as Brooks Orpik left the game in the 2nd period with an undisclosed injury. I am sure most Capitals fans are hoping that this injury is not too serious. If Orpik is out for a few games, that means Taylor Chorney should slide back into the lineup.
Barry Trotz has done a lot of line juggling in the past couple of weeks, and he is still looking for the most affective combinations. I am still wondering when they are going to put Nicklas Backstrom back on the top line. I am curious to see the chemistry that Backstrom could build with T.J. Oshie.
Thursday November 12, 2015 – CSN-DC; CSN-PH; 7 PM ET
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Johansson – Backstrom – Williams
Chimera – Beagle – Burakovsky
Laich – tephenson – Wilson
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – Taylor Chorney
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Wayne Simmonds
Sam Gagner – Brayden Schenn – Vincent Lecavalier
Chris VandeVelde – Scott Laughton – Ryan White
Michael Del Zotto – Mark Streit
Nick Schultz – Luke Schenn
Brandon Manning – Radko Gudas
Capitals – John Carlson: The 25-year old Natick, MA native is the top point producing Capitals defenseman. With 12 points in 14 games played, Carlson is on a roll in the early part of the season. Carlson is the Capitals most complete blueliner. He can play in all situations at 5 on 5 and on special teams. Let’s hope that his production lasts through all 82 games so he can be potentially nominated for the NHL’s Norris Trophy.
Flyers – Claude Giroux: The 27-year old Hearst, Ontario native and Flyers Captain has been one of the NHL’s top point producers for the past several years. Even though the Flyers are in rebuild, Giroux is going to be around for the long-term plan. Giroux has 9 points in 15 games, and he is a scoring threat anytime he hits the ice.
By George Foussekis
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