Flyers-Capitals: Game 47 Preview

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After three straight regulation losses, Flyers get test in NHL-leading Capitals

January opened with the Flyers roaring out of the gate. After a loss to the Kings on Jan. 2, the Flyers came home to start a stretch of 11 games, 10 of them against teams in the East, 10 against teams in playoff position.

The Flyers started that stretch with four straight wins, a hard-fought shootout loss to the Rangers and a rare shootout win against the Red Wings for a 5-0-1 in the first six games. Since then, a last-second loss to the Maple Leafs, a disappointing loss in Pittsburgh and another late loss to the Bruins have since halted the Flyers progress toward making up the ground to get back in playoff contention.

The Flyers final game of that stretch — and final game before the All-Star break — is to face the daunting Washington Capitals in the nation's capital on Wednesday night.

Mother Nature also stepped in for both teams. The Flyers had one of those games, Saturday night's meeting with the Islanders, postponed due to the blizzard. The Capitals have not played in eight days after having two games postponed.

The opening faceoff is set for 8 p.m.

Flyers Leaders GP G A P Capitals Leaders GP G A P
Claude Giroux 46 14 23 37 Evgeny Kuznetsov 46 15 33 48
Jake Voracek 46 6 28 34 Nicklas Backstrom 43 15 29 44
Wayne Simmonds 46 14 14 28 Alex Ovechkin 45 28 14 42
Brayden Schenn 44 11 14 25 Justin Williams 46 16 17 33
Sean Couturier 36 9 13 22 Marcus Johansson 43 13 17 30
 
Player to Watch
17 Wayne Simmonds 8 Alex Ovechkin
Last 5 Games: 3 G, 2 A, 5 P, +1 Last 5 Games: 4 G, 1 A, 5 P, E
 
Wayne Simmonds was driving the train on Monday before the wheels fell off for the Flyers in the end. But before that, he was the piece that kept the Flyers alive and helped complete the comeback from a two-goal deficit. His two goals on Monday now have him tied for the team lead as the team prepares to hit the All-Star break.
 
Alex Ovechkin is the player on a team that has been a force all season. After setting the new scoring record for a Russian-born player and reaching the 500-goal milestone, there's still no stopping Ovechkin, who has four goals in his last five games and is second in the league in goals with 28 on the season.
 
Goalie Matchup
30 Michal Neuvirth 70 Braden Holtby
10-6-2, 2.10 GAA, .934 SV% 30-5-2, 2.01 GAA, .930 SV%

Michal Neuvirth goes back into the net, albeit potential not at full health. Neuvirth was hobbled after the Flyers loss to the Bruins on Monday, but with Steve Mason absent from two straight practices and out for Wednesday's game, figures to be in the net against Washington. 

Braden Holtby has quite simply had the benefit of playing behind the best team in the NHL while putting together some excellent numbers of his own. His 30 wins lead the league, he is second with a 2.01 GAA and is fifth with a .930 save percentage — Neuvirth still holds the top spot in save percentage. Much like the Capitals as a team, facing Holtby is a daunting task for any team, especially one that has struggled to score consistently like the Flyers. 

Flyers Projected Lineup

Scratches: Sean Couturier, Steve Mason, Evgeny Medvedev, Jordan Weal

Left Wing Center Right Wing
93 Jake Voracek 28 Claude Giroux 17 Wayne Simmonds
24 Matt Read 12 Michael Raffl 10 Brayden Schenn
20 R.J. Umberger 21 Scott Laughton 89 Sam Gagner
76 Chris VandeVelde 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare 25 Ryan White
Defense    
15 Michael Del Zotto 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
55 Nick Schultz 32 Mark Streit  
23 Brandon Manning 3 Radko Gudas  
Goalie    
30 Michal Neuvirth    

A couple of interesting changes for the Flyers. Jordan Weal comes back out of the lineup and Sam Gagner returns, playing the wing on the fourth line with R.J. Umberger and Scott Laughton. The Flyers have shuffled the defensive pairings with Shayne Gostisbehere skating with Michael Del Zotto and Radko Gudas playing with Brandon Manning. Jason LaBarbera was brought up from the Phantoms as an emergency call-up for Mason.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (T-21st, 13th on road), Capitals (1st, 2nd at home)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (26th, T-24th on road), Capitals (4th, 8th at home) 
  • Recent History vs. Capitals
    • Nov. 12, 2015 – The Flyers suffered a 5-2 defeat to the Capitals at home. Scott Laughton and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers while Steve Mason made 27 saves in the loss. Jason Chimera scored two goals for the Capitals with T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and Nicklas Backstrom also scoring for Washington.
    • The Flyers posted a 3-1-0 record against the Capitals in the 2014-15 season.
      • Jan. 8. 2015 – Jake Voracek scores the overtime winner in a 3-2 Flyers win at home.
      • Jan. 14, 2015 – Jason Chimera's goal at 3:13 of the first is all the offense needed for Braden Holtby, who makes 21 saves in a 1-0 shutout win for the Capitals in Washington.
      • Feb. 8, 2015 – Wayne Simmonds goal at 3:50 of the third proves to be the game-winner in a 3-1 win over the Capitals in Washington.
      • Feb. 22, 2015 – After jumping ahead with two power play goals from Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, Michael Del Zotto scores the game-winner at 15:47 of the third to give the Flyers a crucial 3-2 win at home. 
  • Flyers leaders vs. Capitals
    • Claude Giroux - 26 games, 15 goals, 13 assists, 28 points
    • Mark Streit - 35 games, 8 goals, 18 assists, 26 points
    • Jake Voracek – 22 games, 9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points
    • Michal Neuvirth - 1st career appearance against Washington
  • Milestone Watch
    • Mark Streit: 5 points to reach 400 for career
    • Jake Voracek: 9 goals to reach 100 as a Flyer

Where to Watch
TV: NBCSN
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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