The Flyers will face off against the Washington Capitals this afternoon in a matinee divisional showdown as they look to end their six-game losing skid.
The Flyers enter the game in last place in the Metropolitan Division with a 15-26-10 record, while the Capitals come in with a 28-16-9 record good for fourth place and the first wild card spot. The teams met just nine days ago, when the Capitals came from behind to defeat the Flyers 5-3 thanks to three goals in the final three minutes, two of them coming from Garnet Hathaway. This loss was especially painful given that it was actually a pretty solid effort from the Flyers until the final five minutes.
The last time out for the Flyers, they were defeated 4-1 by the St. Lous Blues, in a game where they were competitive from the beginning of the game but once again made costly mistakes that proved to be their undoing. The Capitals also enter the game coming off a loss, having been beaten by the New York Rangers. The good news for Washington was that that game marked the return of T.J. Oshie and Justin Schultz from injury, and both of these players will be available for Saturday’s matchup.
From the Flyers’ end, one development of note is the benching of Morgan Frost given his recent play and the return of some key players. It will be interesting to see if this is just a short mental reset for Frost or if he will be sent down to Lehigh Valley until after the trade deadline.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Joel Farabee - Claude Giroux - Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom - Scott Laughton - Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk - Derick Brassard - Gerry Mayhew
Isaac Ratcliffe - Patrick Brown - Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov - Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle - Nick Seeler
Capitals Projected Lineup
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Conor Sheary
Joe Snively - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Connor McMichael - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Justin Schultz
What to Watch For
One thing to watch for will be how Joel Farabee, Carter Hart, and Derick Brassard all look in their returns to the lineup. Hart will see his first action since a February 15 OT loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he allowed five goals. Farabee will be making his return after not playing for over a month with a shoulder injury. He’ll look to continue his solid season offensively, as well as add another piece to a penalty kill that ranks 26th in the NHL. Finally, Brassard once again returns to the lineup, this time after missing about two weeks, and will add some depth and some much-needed help at center.
Cam Atkinson comes into the game with just two goals in the last 15 games, both of which came against the Kings on January 29. While all scorers experience hot and cold streaks, these type of long 10+ game goalless droughts were something we hoped not to see from Atkinson. I’m looking for him to get his scoring touch back soon, especially now that the first line is back together with the return of Farabee.
As always, you can’t talk about the Capitals without mentioning Alex Ovechkin. The 36-year-old enters the game with 32 goals and 31 assist for 63 points, good for first on the Capitals and seventh in the NHL. With the skill on the Capitals’ power play and the Flyers lackluster penalty kill, special teams will be crucial if the Flyers hope to have a chance.