Flyers vs. Capitals preview: Simon Gagne returns, replaces Mike Knuble

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Simon Gagne makes his Flyers re-debut tonight as the Washington Capitals enter Wells Fargo Center.

Simon Gagne will pull on his orange No. 12 sweater for the 755th time (including playoffs) tonight when the Flyers host the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center.

Capitals_blue_mediumFlyers_orange_medium
Washington Capitals (7-10-1, 15) at Philadelphia Flyers (9-11-1, 19)
7:30 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: NBC Sports Network, CSN DC, TSN 2 | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Washington perspective at Japers' Rink

Watching from high above the ice will be his old Flyers linemate and former Capitals forward Mike Knuble, who's expected to be a healthy scratch for the first time since re-joining the Flyers on Jan. 24. Harry Zolnierczyk will return to the lineup thanks to the injury to Tye McGinn, and as always, we'll expect Ilya Bryzgalov in goal.

According to reports from the WFC, Gagne was sleeping during the morning skate today after taking a red eye flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia so he could be here in time for the game, so we don't know exactly where he'll slot in Peter Laviolette's lineup.

I'm not particularly sure what I'd prefer to see. Gagne is a good two-way forward, but the Caps' top line of Jason Chimera, Mike Ribiero and Alex Ovechkin can be really dangerous. Ovechkin was actually held without a shot last night against Carolina, but the Caps like what they've seen of Ovechkin alongside Ribeiro and playing on the right wing.

Talbot provides a bit more of a defensive presence than Gagne, but are you wasting Gagne's speed and playmaking ability on the fourth line? I'd probably expect to see Gagne on the fourth line tonight given the fact that he's being thrown into the fire, but he'll also get second-unit PP time and where he slots in tonight doesn't necessarily mean that's where he'll stay for good.

Braden Holtby was just insane last night against Carolina, stopping 33 Hurricanes shots en route to a shutout. There was a chance he'd sit tonight given that it's a second half of a back-to-back for Washington, but with Michal Neuvirth out with an illness, Holtby will definitely be between the pipes. He's allowed just one goal in his last two games, so the Flyers will have to be up to the task tonight.

Questions to Answer
  1. What the ovation like for Simon Gagne?
  2. Where does Gagne fit in the lineup, and how does Laviolette use him?
  3. Can the Flyers stop Washington on the PP (or just generally win the special teams game)?
  4. The Capitals are a good first period team. They've scored first in eight straight games. When playing a team that's playing their second game in two nights, we always talk about the importance of getting off to a strong start. Can the Flyers control the early portion of the game?
  5. Any lingering effects from the Wayne Simmonds/John Erskine hit the last time these teams met?

Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. from Wells Fargo Center. It's exclusively on NBC Sports Network in the Delaware Valley.

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