Philadelphia at Washington Preview: Banged Up Capitals Face Flyers On Saturday Night

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night in the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Capitals won six out of eight games against the Flyers last season, but both of their losses to the orange and black came on home-ice. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington beginning at 7 PM ET.

Flyers

The Flyers close out a short two-game road trip and continue a stretch where they will play seven of nine on the road. They fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night. The Flyers are 2-1-1 on the road this season.

After a disappointing season last year where they finished sixth in the East Division with 58 points, the Flyers have gotten off to a 5-2-2 start and are 3-1-1 in their past five games but dropped two of their last three with their only win in that span coming against the 0-9-1 Arizona Coyotes.

Right-wing Claude Giroux, who has earned a point in all but one game this season and has one goal and three points in his last two games, and center Sean Couturier (who has three two-point games in his lat five and five overall this season) co-lead the Flyers with 11 points. Couturier also leads the Flyers in assists with seven. Newly acquired right-wing Cam Atkinson’s six goals lead the team after the Flyers traded right-wing Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for the 32-year-old in July.

In addition to Atkinson, the Flyers upgraded their defense over the offseason with the additions of Ryan Ellis (who has tallied one goal, four points, a +3 rating, 50.63% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 48.04% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, 48.48 % five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in three games this season), Rasmus Ristolainen (no points, a -1 rating, 43.64% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 41.44% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, 37.29% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in seven games), Keith Yandle (five assists, -2 rating, 49.79% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 52.98% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, 48.7% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in nine games), and Nick Seeler (no points, +1 rating, 46.6% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 51.67% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, 48.42% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in eight games). They signed goaltender Martin Jones to back-up Carter Hart and added offensive depth with the signings of centers Nate Thompson (one goal in nine games) and Derick Brassard (one goal, six points in nine games). Since the season started, the Flyers claimed centers Zack McEwen (no points in seven games) from the Vancouver Canucks and Patrick Brown (no points in two games) from the Vegas Golden Knights off of waivers.

The Flyers have averaged 3.33 goals-per-game (eighth in the NHL), 2.56 goals-against per game (seventh), 30 shots-per-game (tied for 20th), and 33.3 shots-against per game (26th) so far this season. In addition, they have converted on 22.2% of their power plays (14th) and killed off 81.3% of their penalties (17th). Their 55.5% faceoff-winning percentage is just .4% behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the NHL lead.

At five-on-five, the Flyers have earned a 47.06% Corsi-for percentage (25th), a 46.29% expected goals-for percentage (26th), a 44.1% scoring chances-for percentage (30th), a 9.3% shooting percentage (sixth), a .949 save percentage (fourth), and a 1.038 PDO (second).

Capitals

The Capitals start a short two-game homestand on Saturday night after coming back from 2-0 and 4-1 deficits against the 9-0-1 Florida Panthers on Thursday night to earn a point. The team is 3-0-3 on home-ice this season but have dropped three of their last five home contests in overtime.

Despite a rash of injuries to start the season, the Capitals have been finding ways to get points as they are 5-1-4. Though, they have lost two games in a row, three of their last four, and have dropped four of six (2-1-3) since starting the season 3-0-1.

Left-wing Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 10 goals in 10 games this season and has tallied 18 points (third). After the 36-year-old’s eight-game season-opening point-streak came to a halt in the Capitals’ 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, he tallied a goal and three points in Thursday’s 5-4 overtime loss in Sunrise. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 13 points are tied for fifth and his eight assists are tied for 14th. The 29-year-old’s three-game point-streak where he tallied a goal and four points ended against the Panthers.

The Capitals have averaged 3.6 goals-per-game (fifth), 2.7 goals-against per game (11th), 31.8 shots-per-game (14th), and 26.5 shots-against per game (second) to date this season. They have scored on 18.9% of their power plays (21st) while killing off 75.9% of their opponents’ man advantages (23rd). Their 46.9% faceoff-winning percentage entering Friday was tied for 25th.

At five-on-five, the team has earned a 52.93% Corsi-for percentage (eighth), 56.21% expected goals-for percentage (third), 54.16% scoring chances-for percentage (seventh), 10.2% shooting percentage (second), .9289 save percentage (15th), and a 1.031 PDO (fifth).

Injuries

Flyers

Ellis (lower-body, week-to-week)

C Kevin Hayes (abdominal, LTIR)

Capitals

C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, week-to-week)

RW T.J. Oshie (foot, week-to-week)

LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, indefinite)

Goaltending Matchup

Flyers — Hart (3-2-2, .926 save percentage, 2.41 goals-against average, one shutout this season), 23, or Jones (2-0-0, .941 save percentage, 2.01 goals-against average), 31. Hart is 2-3-1 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average in six career games vs. the Capitals while Jones is 5-4-1 with an .896 save percentage, a 3.01 goals-against average, and two shutouts in  10. Hart went 1-2-0 with an .883 save percentage and a 3.63 goals-against average in three games against the Capitals last season.

Capitals — Vitek Vanecek (2-1-3, .903 save percentage, 2.49 goals-against average), 25, or Ilya Samsonov (3-0-1, .893 save percentage, 2.91 goals-against average, one shutout), 24. In two games against the orange and black last season, Vanecek went 0-1-1 with an .883 save percentage and a 4.40 goals-against average while Samsonov went 5-0-0 with a .924 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average.

Game Notes

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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