Photo: Daily Herald
The Washington Capitals host the Philadelphia Flyers in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Flyers won three out of the four games in last year’s season series. Action from the District can be seen on NBC Sports Washington or on NBC Sports Network for those outside of the DMV.
After finishing third in the Metropolitan Division with 98 points and getting ousted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs a season ago, the Flyers are only one point ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. They are only 8-11-3 on the road and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.
The Flyers are coming into town for the second game of a back-to-back after hosting the St. Louis Blues on Monday night, a game which they lost by a score of 3-0. The team heads out on the road for just the first of two times in a span of eight games. They play three of their last five games before their mandated bye week at home.
Philadelphia has some good young talent on the backend but entered their game against the Blues giving up the second-most goals in the league with a goals-against per game average of 3.61, though they average up the seventh-fewest shots per game in the league (29.9). Despite having a good group of forwards, the Flyers came into Monday’s game averaging only 2.78 goals-per-game, the eighth-lowest in the NHL. They entered Monday the best faceoff winning percentage in the NHL (56.3%).
Forward Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with 33 assists and 46 points in 41 games but hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet in six of the last eight games and has just one goal in his last nine. In the two appearances that he did manage to get a point, he recorded two points in each game. The 30-year old has a +14 point differential between the second-leading scorer on the Flyers, forward Jakub Voracek. Center Sean Couturier leads Philadelphia with 17 goals after breaking out with 31 goals and 76 points a season ago.
Rookie goaltender Carter Hart started against St. Louis on Monday night, meaning the Capitals will likely get goaltender Mike McKenna, who was picked up by the Flyers on waivers from the Vancouver Canucks after getting acquired from the Ottawa Senators last week. McKenna, 35, is 1-4-1 with a save percentage of .879 and a goals-against average 3.96 this season and will likely make his Philadelphia debut tomorrow night. In four career games against Washington, McKenna is 0-4-0 with a save percentage of .858 and a goals-against average of 4.84. He made 29 saves in the Capitals’ 4-0 win over the Senators on December 22.
The Capitals return back home after going on the road for three straight outings. After losing three consecutive games (0-2-1), the team beat the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 3-2 in regulation on Sunday evening despite trailing 2-1 in the third period. Before losing three in a row, the Capitals won four in a row and 16 of the last 19.
Captain Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 47 points and the league with 30 goals entering Tuesday’s game against the Flyers. After a 14-game point-streak, where he posted 17 goals and 23 points in that span, the 31-year old has just one goal and four points in nine games since, though he has two points in his past three games. Ovechkin has a -2 rating during that stretch.
Washington went 0-for-4 on the power-play against the Red Wings on Sunday but has gotten some good looks the past two games. It has gone 1-for-34 (2.9%) since December 15. The dry spell on the man advantage had them entering Monday’s slate of NHL action tied with the Senators for just 11th in the league at 21.4%.
The team’s defensive duo of Michal Kempny and John Carlson has been one of the best in the business this season. Carlson’s 33 assists are second on the team behind center Nicklas Backstrom‘s 34 and he also has 39 points in 40 games. Kempny, who scored the game-winning goal in the team’s win over Detroit has already set a career-high five goals and 15 points in 38 games. His +24 rating is fifth in the NHL while Carlson’s rating of +22 is seventh.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 16-10-2 with a save percentage of .910, a goals-against average of 2.89, and two shutouts this season, will likely start against the Flyers on Tuesday. The 29-year old is 9-4-8 with a save percentage of .915, a goals-against average of 2.52, and two shutouts in 22 career outings against Philadelphia.
-Backstrom and center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who just reached the 300 point mark, are one of two sets of teammates in the NHL to average over 2.00 assists per 60 minutes of play
-In the Capitals’ last 15 games against Eastern Conference opponents, the Capitals hold a 14-1-0 record, including an 8-0-0 record on the road and have outscored their opponents 57-30 in that stretch
-Center Travis Boyd has 11 points in his last 22 games
A Look Back In Time
Carlson would open the scoring on the power-play to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round Series. Forward Jason Chimera would deflect a puck from center ice and it would bounce through the legs of goaltender Steve Mason. After the Flyers cut the lead in half, Ovechkin scored from his office to give Washington their two-goal lead back. Backstrom scored the last goal of the game to seal a 4-1 win to take a 2-0 series lead before the series shifted to Philadelphia. Holtby made 41 saves in the win.
By Harrison Brown