The 2015-16 NHL regular season has concluded and now it is time for the playoffs to begin.
The Washington Capitals are set to square off in round 1 against their Metropolitan Division foe Philadelphia Flyers. The last time these two teams squared off in the playoffs against each other was in 2008 Quarterfinals, and the Flyers won the series 4-3.
REGULAR SEASON RECAP
The Capitals and Flyers met each other 4 times in the regular season. The Capitals went 2-0-2 against the Flyers.
November 12, 2015 – 5-2 Capitals win – in Philadelphia
January 27, 2016 – 4-3 (OT) Flyers win – in Washington
February 6, 2016 – 3-2 Capitals win – in Washington
March 30, 2016 – 2-1 (S/O) Flyers win – in Philadelphia
PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE
— #RockTheRed (@washcaps) April 11, 2016
-Capitals forward Justin Williams has recorded 30 goals and 78 points in 115 playoff games. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2000 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.
-Flyers forward and Captain Claude Giroux led all Flyers skaters with 67 points.
-Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere could be in the running for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, which is the trophy awarded to the top rookie. Gostisbehere recorded 17 goals and 46 points in 64 games.
TEAM BREAKDOWNS (With Projected Line Combinations and Top Producers)
Capitals – Barry Trotz
The slogan for the playoffs is “Entitled to Nothing.” This is not Trotz’s first rodeo in the NHL Playoffs. This will be Trotz’s 9th trip to the postseason as an NHL head coach. Trotz led the Capitals to 56 wins this season. He will most likely be in the running for the NHL’s Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach.
Flyers – Dave Hakstol
The former North Dakota coach came straight from the NCAA ranks to the NHL. In his first season with the Flyers, the Flyers won 41 games. The Flyers won 6 out of their last 10 games, and really got hot down the stretch. Hakstol has changed the culture in Philadelphia, and the Flyers are playing with more structure.
Powerplay: 21.9% (5th in the NHL)
Penalty Kill: 85.2% (2nd in the NHL)
Powerplay: 18.9% (11th in the NHL)
Penalty Kill: 80.5% (20th in the NHL)
HOW THE CAPITALS CAN WIN THE SERIES
- Play physical against the Flyers defense core. They need to get pucks behind them, and wear them down with the cycle game. The Flyers defense core has players who will turn the puck over.
- Convert on the powerplay. The Capitals powerplay has flaked out in previous playoff series. The regular season powerplay success must carry over into the postseason.
- Get production from the bottom 6 forwards. If Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Mike Richards, or Tom Wilson can get some goals in this series, that will put added pressure on the Flyers.
HOW THE FLYERS CAN WIN THE SERIES
- Play a disciplined game. The Capitals had one of the top powerplay units in the NHL, so the Flyers need to avoid the penalty box.
- Get to Braden Holtby early in the series. Holtby is a confident goaltender, and they need to find a way to score some fluky goals on him. The Flyers need to try and put some doubt in his mind early in the series.
- Steve Mason has to be good throughout the series. He cannot have an off night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
CAPITALS – EVGENY KUZNETSOV: Kuznetsov led all Capitals skaters with 77 points during the regular season. In last year’s playoffs, he was the difference maker for the Capitals in the 1st round against the NY Islanders. Since he plays mainly on the Capitals second line, he can give the Capitals a matchup advantage against the Flyers.
FLYERS – WAYNE SIMMONDS: Simmonds is a rough and tough customer that can get under the opposing team’s skin. He led the Flyers with 32 goals and 147 penalty minutes during the regular season. He is on the Flyers top powerplay unit, and he is usually parked in front of the net. Simmonds’ physical play is something that can make a difference for the Flyers during the playoffs.
By: George Foussekis