Wednesday Night Hockey Preview: Capitals Face-Off With Red Hot Flyers In Biggest Game Of The Season

Patrick Smith:Getty ImagesPhoto: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals host the Philadelphia Flyers for the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams. After the Capitals came away with a 2-1 shootout win in their first meeting, the Flyers have taken the past two including a 7-2 blowout victory in the District last month. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBCSN‘s “Wednesday Night Hockey” broadcast beginning at 7 PM ET.

Flyers

The Flyers conclude a short two-game road trip within the Metropolitan Division after finishing a sweep of their home-and-home series with the New York Rangers with a 5-3 win at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. They also start a set of back-to-backs as the Carolina Hurricanes wait in Philadelphia for the Flyers to return and play them on Thursday night. The Flyers are only .500 on the road this season (15-15-3) but have won two straight games and are 6-2-2 in their last ten away from Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers enter Wednesday night’s contest as the hottest team in the NHL with six straight wins and a 16-5-1 record since January 8, tied for the second-best with the Boston Bruins behind only the Colorado Avalanche (.786). That run has moved the Flyers to within three points of the Capitals for the Metropolitan Division lead with 17 games to go. Philadelphia has scored at least four goals in six straight games, amassing 27 in that span, and three in 11 straight (50). Since January 7, the Flyers are the highest-scoring team in the league with an average of 3.74 goals-per-game.

Center Travis Konecny leads the Flyers with 23 goals and 60 points in 62 games this season. The 22-year-old has two goals and six points during a three-game point streak and six goals and 16 points in his past 11 games. Forward Jakub Voracek leads the team with 40 assists this season and has seven helpers in his last four games and six during a two-game assist streak. Center Sean Couturier, who is third with 21 goals and second with 58 points, leads the team with a +20 rating. Center Kevin Hayes, who has 22 goals and 39 points during his first season in Philadelphia, has four goals and seven points in his last six games. Center Claude Giroux’s 59.3% faceoff-winning percentage leads the NHL this season.

The Flyers’ average of 3.31 goals-per-game ranks seventh in the NHL this season while their average of 2.85 goals-against per game is tenth. Their 21.6% power-play efficiency is 11th while their 81.2 penalty-killing rate is 12th. The Flyers’ 54.5% faceoff-winning percentage leads the league. Their average of 31.5 shots-per-game is at the league average while their average of 28.5 shots-against per game is the fewest.

Goaltender Brian Elliott, who is 15-7-4 with an .899 save percentage, and a 2.90 goals-against average this season, will start in net for the orange and black on Wednesday night. In 18 career games against the Capitals, the 34-year-old is 9-7-0 with an .893 save percentage and a 3.16 goals-against average. He made 25 saves in the Flyers’ 7-2 blowout win at Capital One Arena three and a half weeks ago in his lone start against the Capitals this season.

Capitals

The Capitals make their lone pit stop at home during a stretch where they play five of six away from Capital One Arena. Like the Flyers, they also begin a set of back-to-backs, with a meeting with the Rangers looming at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. The Capitals have gone 2-0-1 in their past three home games, outscoring opponents 11-9 and have scored at least three goals in four straight at home but have given up at least three in five straight. They are 18-9-5 at Capital One Arena this season.

After a four-game losing streak where they went 0-3-1 and going 11-12-1 in their last 24 games, the Capitals have won three of four (3-1-0) after a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Despite their success during that stretch, the Capitals only outscored opponents 13-12. The Capitals have allowed at least three goals in eight straight games, where they have allowed a total of 25, and in 13 of their last 15, where they have allowed 53. With a win on Wednesday, the Capitals can get some separation on the Flyers for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Defenseman John Carlson‘s 58 assists this season are tied with Rangers forward Artemi Panarin for third in the NHL behind only Edmonton Oilers centers Leon Draisaitl (64) and Connor McDavid (62). The 30-year-old has two goals and 13 points in his last 14 games. After a two-goal and three-point outing against the Wild, captain Alex Ovechkin is now up to 45 goals this season, which is tied with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews for second in the NHL behind only Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak. The 34-year-old has five goals and six points in his past six contests after a five-game point drought.

The Capitals’ average of 3.42 goals-per-game is currently tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the third-most in the NHL this season behind the Toronto Maple Leafs (3.52) and Tampa Bay Lightning (3.51), but their average of 3.03 goals-against per game is the sixth-highest among teams that currently occupy a Stanley Cup Playoff spot and slightly above the league average. Their 20.3% power-play efficiency entering Tuesday is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the league average while their 83.3% penalty-killing rate is fourth. Their average of 32 shots-per-game entering Tuesday’s slate of NHL activity was tied with the Penguins for 11th while their average of 30.2 shots-against per game is ninth. The Capitals’ 48.4% faceoff-winning percentage is tied with the Wild for the fourth-worst.

Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 24-13-5 with an .898 save percentage and a 3.12 goals-against average this season, will start for the Capitals vs. the Flyers on Wednesday night. In 28 career games against the Flyers, the 30-year-old is 13-6-8 with a .912 save percentage, a 2.61 goals-against average, and two shutouts. In three games against them this season, Holtby has recorded a .867 save percentage and a 3.85 goals-against average. He was pulled in the Capitals’ loss to the Flyers last month after allowing seven goals on 25 shots. This will be his 10th appearance in the past 12 games.

Shavings

  • Forward T.J. Oshie is expected to play in his 800th career NHL game
  • Forward Tom Wilson has scored a goal in four of his last six games and has 21 goals on the season; he’s now only one goal shy of his career-high set last season (2018-19: 22 goals)
  • With 1,136 games of combined playoff experience, the Capitals are the fourth-most experienced team when it comes to playoff games played (Boston Bruins: 1,236 combined Stanley Cup Playoff games; Pittsburgh Penguins: 1,212 games; St. Louis Blues: 1,142 games)
  • With an average weight of 205.0 pounds, the Capitals are the third-heaviest team in the NHL (New York Islanders: 205.9 lbs.; Dallas Stars: 205.2 lbs.)
  • The Capitals are the only team in the NHL with three players that are 30 or older with at least 50 points this season (Carlson, Ovechkin, Backstrom); Oshie is three points shy of joining the group
  • The Capitals are the only team in the NHL with four players that are 30 or older with at least 40 points this season (Carlson, Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom, Oshie)
  • With wins in each of his last three starts, Holtby is on pace to record 30 wins for his sixth consecutive season

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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2 Responses to Wednesday Night Hockey Preview: Capitals Face-Off With Red Hot Flyers In Biggest Game Of The Season

  1. Marky says:

    Caps need to show nice tonight against a rival and on national tv. Hopefully they are coming out of the month + long funk they have been in. Interesting to see how the D will play with out Kempny in the lineup also.

Leave a Reply to Marky Cancel reply