The Caps are off to the “City of Brotherly Love” in advance of their game against the Flyers Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The game is NBC’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game of the week. Puck drop is an annoying 8:00PM.
We are the night you love to hate.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) December 20, 2016
The Flyers just had their 10 game win streak come to an end Saturday night in Dallas. However, as a result of the winning streak, the Flyers find themselves smack dab in the middle of the Metropolitan playoff race (quagmire). The Flyers lost to the Nashville Predators 2-1 in a shootout on Monday night, extending their losing streak to two games.
The Flyers have been riding strong goalie play for their recent surge in the standings. Steve Mason has been solid between the pipes, in the absence of Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth has been out with a torn meniscus he suffered against the Minnesota Wild on November 12th. Neuvirth returned to practice Monday morning. Steve Mason is 13-9-3 with a .905 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average.
The Flyers power play is working well so far this season, currently ranked fifth in the league with a 22.8% conversion rate. On the flip-side, the Flyers penalty kill has been average at best, and is currently ranked 10th in the league with an 82.8% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 105.6.
The Caps also had a win streak come to an end on Saturday night against Montreal, theirs of the six-game variety. The Capitals have been off since Saturday’s loss, so it will be interesting to see if the Caps are able to pick-up the intensity right from the start against the Flyers.
The Capitals’ special teams continue to catch fire. Nicklas Backstrom scored a power-play goal on Saturday night against Montreal, extending Washington’s power-play goal streak to five games. Washington has scored a power-play goal in seven of its last eight games and has scored 14 power-play goals in their last 15 games.
The power play is now ranked 13th in the league with a conversion rate of 19.6%. The Capitals power play has steadily improved since the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 3rd. (Last 6 games).
The Capitals’ penalty kill continues to strive, currently ranked 7th in the league with a 84.0% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 103.6, the best index for the Caps so far this season.
The Capitals line combinations have begun to settle down a bit, at least to start each game. The Capitals practice lines on Tuesday morning, before departing to Philadelphia:
#Caps lines: 8-92-14; 90-19-77; 65-20-13; 26-83-43. So unchanged based on practice reps.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) December 20, 2016
John Carlson was sick, and did not participate in practice on Tuesday, but made the trip to Philadelphia. With Carlson sick, the power play units were slightly modified.
With Carlson not out there, Niskanen is on PP1. Burakovsky is on PP2.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) December 20, 2016
All signs are pointing to Andre Burakovsky returning to the lineup Wednesday night against the Flyers.
More often than not, NBC’s Wednesday Night Rivalry games are not truly rivalry games, but this one will be the real deal. The Flyers, taking a two-game losing streak into the contest will be looking to right the ship against their Metropolitan Division foes. The Capitals eliminated the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs last spring, and the series had all the drama one would expect when these two teams get together. The Flyers will be seeking redemption in any form.
The Flyers are ahead of the Capitals in the standings by just a single point (having played four more games than the Capitals. It’s hard to believe a serious standings battle could take place in December, but that’s what we have. Lose and you run the risk of losing pace with the rest of the Metropolitan Division.
Ah, the great bracelet debacle 2016:
Brayden Schenn was widely criticized for his cheap shot, a cross check to Kuznetsov’s knees after play had ended late in game 4.
This hit by Schenn to the side of Kuznetsov’s knee looks even worse in slow motion. pic.twitter.com/xy1AjztgRV
— Danny (@recordsANDradio) April 21, 2016
TJ Oshie would waste no time to retaliate in the very next game, dropping the gloves with Schenn at the start of game 5.
- Alex Ovechkin has scored just two even-strength goals in the last month of the season (11/16-12/16), a l of 14 games.
By Jon Sorensen