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Flyers vs. Capitals preview: Wandering into the Southeast abyss

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7 p.m. tonight
Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
TV: NBC Sports Network
RADIO: 94 WIP
CAPS BLOG: Japers' Rink

As badly as the Philadelphia Flyers need to string some wins together right now, they don't need them nearly as much as the Washington Capitals. The Caps are the third stooge in the "race" for the Southeast Division title -- and thus, the third seed and possibly the right to play the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals -- with Florida and Winnipeg, and it's become apparent that none of these teams really wants playoff hockey all that badly.

Washington lost 5-0 to the Devils on Friday night, a defeat that quickly put the skids on what Caps fans hoped was a bit of a turn-around. Coming into that game, Dale Hunter's men had won three straight and seemed to be getting things in order for the stretch run, but ummmm yeah, not so much ...

Some nights it's hard to believe that this Caps team is only out of the playoffs by one point. Some nights it's hard to believe they're in the race at all.

As for the Flyers, it feels like we've been in this win-one-lose-one run for months now. It's only been about seven games, but given the current state of the Capitals, tonight would be a really swell time to ... you know, maybe score a goal first, and maybe not allow the opposition to score in the first 12 seconds of a game. Oh, and, novel concept: Maybe the Flyers could win two games in a row. That'd be really great.

Ilya Bryzgalov will be in goal for the Flyers this evening, and it appears as though Erik Gustafsson could be in for Kimmo Timonen tonight. Kimmo didn't skate at the morning skate this AM in Washington and Gus was called up on Saturday from the Adirondack Phantoms. He hasn't missed a game since 2007-08, so if he does indeed sit, this has to be at least a little bit worrisome.

Hopefully they're just being cautious, but Timonen's played less than 16 minutes in each of his last two games, far below the typical game for him.

Michal Neuvirth gets his fifth straight start in goal for the Capitals. Game thread at 5 p.m. It's an NBC Sports Network game, but you can get the Flyers feed by flipping on 94WIP.