The Flyers certainly bounced back yesterday after starting the return from the Olympics in poopy fashion. But don't celebrate too much -- a loss today against the Washington Capitals would be really bad for their playoff hopes.
The Flyers are currently third in the Metropolitan, but really don't have a solid footing there. The team directly behind them in the standings only needs two points to knock the Flyers into the Wild Card race. Take a wild (see what I did there?) guess which team that is.
A loss today would tie the Flyers with the Detroit Red Wings, who are currently holding on to the final spot in the playoffs. The Flyers would win the tiebreaker due to fewer of their points coming from shootout wins, but still, it's not a situation you want to be in.
The point is, the Flyers need to win today.
The Capitals are coming off their own happy-Saturday-matinee-game victory, defeating the Bruins 4-2 yesterday in Boston. That game saw Alexander Ovechkin score 2 goals on the power play, so I'm going to go ahead and suggest -- for the thousandth time -- that the Flyers try to PLAY WITH SOME DISCIPLINE.
Seriously, though, piling on the stupid penalties might be OK with some teams, but not with the Caps. They currently have the league's second best power play, converting 22.7 percent of all opportunities, and just look nasty with the extra man.
Of course, we all know the most dangerous players on this team. Ovechkin notched his 43rd goal of the season yesterday and could very well reach the 60-goal mark by the end of the season. Having Nicklas Backstrom dishing the puck out to you certainly helps in that department.
Regardles of whatever narratives emerged during the Olympics, these guys are dangerous as hell on the ice, and the Flyers should take extra care to make sure they are given as little room as possible.
Luckily, spending time covering the first line shouldn't leave the Flyers vulnerable -- the Capitals are very much a one-line team. Take a look at individual player's stats and you see cliff in the goals, assists, and points column after the names Backstrom and Ovechkin. It also seems that second line center Mikhail Grabovski is out after aggravating an ankle injury in Boston. So, yeah…the team that will hit the ice today is far from well rounded.
Look for Steve Mason to get the start today. Even though he played yesterday in Philadelphia, I seriously doubt Berube wants to put Cal Heeter on the ice for his first NHL game, especially given the circumstances regarding playoff positions. No word on the Caps starter, but I'm guessing Braden Holtby.
Game starts at 12:30 on NBC. Caps suck. Go Flyers.