The Flyers caught a break last week when they played the injury-ridden Rangers. But as nice as it was playing New York without Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and Henrik Lundqvist, it might be the absence of one player tonight that helps the Flyers even more.
Washington Capitals (5-7-0, 10 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (3-8-0, 6 pts)
7 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: CSN Philly, CSN DC, NHL Network | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the Washington perspective at Japers' Rink
Alex Ovechkin will miss his first game since February 2012, and it's not a serious injury, so we don't have to feel bad saying that this is a good thing for the Flyers. To put it very simply, the Capitals are a much worse team without Ovi in the lineup. They've scored 34 goals this season, and No. 8 has 10 of them.
Japers' Rink explained a bit yesterday, noting just how irreplaceable this one guy is for their team. Mike Vogel notedthat he's played 56:45 of Washington's 60:24 total power play time this year, so Ovi's absence also really hurts the Caps fifth-ranked power play. Four of his 10 goals are PP tallies ... and the team has six total PPG.
So, the Caps are without their best player, which should in theory help the Flyers. But ... well, the Flyers.
The good news: With Maxime Talbot off in Colorado, Adam Hall will check back into the lineup and get heavy PK duty, meaning Jay Rosehill sits as your healthy scratch. On defense, Andrej Meszaros will sit as Erik Gustafsson makes his return to the lineup.
Of course, it's Steve Downie's re-debut in orange and black as well, and while we don't have a lineup from the morning skate today, the expectation is that Downie will replace Michael Raffl on the top line. Where does that leave Raffl, and the rest of the lineup for that matter? Not really sure. What we have here is just a guess.
Steve Mason will get the start. Looks like it'll be Braden Holtby for Washington.
The Flyers gave played solid hockey for stretches this season, so we know it's possible. We know the goals are in there somewhere, and we know the sound defensive play can be found as well. It's just a matter of making it all come together, and now that the calendar has turned to November, it's time to start putting it together consistently.
Our game thread will be up at 6 p.m. Go Flyers.