Game Preview: Flyers Sputter Into Snowy District

washington-capitals-philadelphia-flyers
Photo: NHL

So it is has been really snowy and really cold in Washington D.C. over the past week.  The Capitals have had to adjust their schedule, and they have not played a hockey game in over a week.  They were supposed to have games last Friday (versus Anaheim) and Sunday (versus Pittsburgh), but both were postponed.

With the roads in better conditions and the snow a little bit more melted, the Capitals will return to the ice on an NBC Sports Network Telecast as they square off with the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.

SERIES FLASHBACK
The Flyers and Capitals first meeting of the season was back on November 12 in Philadelphia.  The Capitals left Broad Street with a 5-2 victory as Jason Chimera had a 2-goal night.

This will be the second meeting of the season between the Flyers and Capitals.  They will see each other again on Super Bowl Sunday as the Flyers make their second trip to D.C.

SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

The Flyers are really struggling to find offense right now.  They have only scored 105 goals in 46 games this year.  The Flyers are averaging 2.24 goals per game, which ranks them 29th in the NHL.  On top of their goal scoring woes, the Flyers special teams have not been good.  They have a bottom 5 penalty killing unit (77.7% effectiveness).

While the Flyers are struggling to score goals, their top line has been a bright spot.  Head Coach Dave Hakstol has put all his top guns together and they have been fun to watch.  The trio of Jakub Voracek-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds has the ability to give opposing teams fits.  There is a good mix of speed, skill, and grit on the Flyers top line.

The Flyers have not been a very good road team this year.  They only have 9 road wins in 23 games.  The Flyers have lost 3 straight games, as their last loss came on Monday night against the Boston Bruins 3-2 at Wells Fargo Center.

While the Flyers are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it is safe to say that they are probably going to miss out on the playoffs.  Knowing the Flyers, they will probably be in sell-mode in a month when the NHL Trade Deadline occurs.

WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS

It has been a blizzard filled week in Washington D.C, which is probably a good and bad thing for the Capitals.  On the good side of things, it has given some of their injured players like John Carlson and Brooks Orpik more rest and more time to heal.  On the bad side of things, it could potentially harm the Capitals momentum.  On top of the week long break for the Capitals, they are headed into the All Star Break later this week, so that means even more time away from hockey.

The Capitals last game they played was on January 19 as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 in Columbus.  The Caps exploded in the 2nd period in that game as they scored 4 goals in the frame.  Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied 4 assists in the game and was phenomenal.

Some good news out of Capitals camp is that John Carlson has been upgraded from “doubtful” to “possible” for Wednesday’s game against the Flyers.  Carlson has been out of action for a month and has not played since December 26.

Since the Capitals have not played in over a week, there could be some early rust against the Flyers.  It may take a few shifts for the Capitals to get their legs back under them.  Even if the Capitals have a slow start, they should be able to win the special teams battle and they should be able to play a more physical game than the Flyers.

STANDINGS UPDATE

Capture

NETWORK INFORMATION
Wednesday, January 27, 2016 – NBCSN; 8 PM ET

PROJECTED LINEUPS
philadelphia-flyers-wallpaperPhiladelphia Flyers
Forwards:
Voracek – Giroux – Simmonds
Raffl – Gagner – Schenn
Read – Laughton – Weal
VandeVelde – Bellemare – White

Defensemen:
Del Zotto – Gudas
Schultz – Streit
Gostisbehere – Manning

Goaltenders:
Steve Mason
Michal Neuvirth

washington-capitals-wallpaperWashington Capitals
Forwards
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Oshie
Burakovsky – Kuznetsov – Williams
Chimera – Johansson – Wilson
Laich – Richards – Galiev

Defensemen:
Schmidt – Orlov
Alzner – Niskanen
Stanton – Chorney

Goaltenders:
Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
Flyers – Wayne Simmonds: The 27-year old Ontario native is coming off a 2-goal night against Boston.  The big winger is known to be a tough customer on the ice.  He has performed well with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.  Simmonds has 14 goals and 28 points in 46 games this year.  He has also racked up 88 penalty minutes.  Simmonds has a parking spot in the blue paint, so he is a big pest on the ice.

Capitals – Mike Richards: The former Flyers Captain has found a new home in Washington D.C.  While he has not registered a point in his first 3 games as a Cap, he has been very noticeable.  He has shown that he can be a very consistent player in the faceoff circle.  Richards won 57% of his draws against Columbus, and 70% of his draws in the previous game against the NY Rangers.  Richards should be able to provide this extra support until Capitals top faceoff man Jay Beagle returns to the lineup.

By George Foussekis

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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