After a two day hiatus, the Flyers hit the ice again tonight against the Washington Capitals. This will be the first time the orange and black have played the Caps this season, continuing the brutal stretch of opponents the team has been on. After a back-to-back with two of the best teams in the Atlantic Division, the Flyers now face the top team in their own division.
Washington has been off to an incredible start, posting a 13-2-4 record with 30 points in 19 games. They hold an eight-point lead over the Flyers, who sit third in the Metropolitan Division, and a five point lead over the New York Islanders who are second. The month of November is a rough one for the Flyers, but they’re off to a great start and have won their last four games.
Despite the fact the Flyers have won their past four games, they’ve also given away leads in most of these wins. It’s not a terribly concerning trend, given the fact they still have four straight wins, but it doesn’t mean those blown leads can be entirely ignored. It would be extremely encouraging to see the Flyers get to an early lead again, and maintain it the entire way.
It looks like a great goalie matchup tonight at first glance, with Carter Hart getting the start for the Flyers, and Braden Holtby going for the Capitals. However, Holtby has struggled this season posting just a .898 save percentage in 13 games. The biggest weakness for the Caps so far has been their defense and goaltending, as they’re 21st in the league in goals against. Of course, that’s mitigated by being first in goals-for in the NHL. Also, Hart, despite looking much better of late, still has a .893 save percentage on the season.
Players to watch for
Alex Ovechkin — This section is typically saved for Flyers players, but hey, it’s Alex Ovechkin. Ovi is off to another fantastic start, and already has 13 goals in 19 games. While the Flyers’ penalty kill has been great of late, giving Ovechkin multiple chances to tee off on the power play is playing with fire.
Carter Hart — Hart was spectacular vs. Boston, making tremendous saves in the third period. He was on a roll and kept the Flyers either in the lead or tied, continuing his strong play of late. This is a huge game for the Flyers with a chance to draw within six points of the Caps for the lead in the Metro.
Phil Myers — Myers has goals in back-to-back games, and has looked very much like the player we expected to see in preseason. It’s safe to say if Myers looked like this in preseason and training camp, he would have made the roster from day one. While it sucks we didn’t get to see him at first, he’s here now, and making huge plays.
Two big questions
1. Can the penalty kill stay hot?
This will be a huge test for the Flyers, going up against a lethal Washington power play featuring probably the greatest pure goal scorer of all-time, in Ovechkin. The penalty kill will need to be on their ‘A’ game tonight if they’ll keep Ovi and the rest of the Caps offense off the board.
2. Will Hart keep it going?
Over his past few starts, he’s looked like the goalie we saw shutout New Jersey in the home opener. It’s a huge test in this one for the kid, so it should be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.
Flyers Projected Lineup
JVR — Giroux — Farabee
Lindblom — Couturier — Konecny
Twarynski — Hayes — Voracek
Andreoff — Raffl — Pitlick
Provorov — Niskanen
Gostisbehere — Braun
Sanheim — Myers