Flyers-Capitals: Game 76 Preview

Potential playoff preview comes to Philly as Flyers host Capitals 

With just seven games to go in the regular season for the Philadelphia Flyers (37-25-13), the first of five remaining games against contending teams comes against the beast of the East and the NHL's best.

The Washington Capitals (54-16-5) have already sealed their playoff fate, clinching the President's Trophy with a 4-1 win over Columbus on Monday, but bring the Flyers a challenge nonetheless.

After all, with the Capitals locked into the East's top spot and the Flyers battling for the final playoff spot, this is quite possibly a preview of a first-round playoff series to come.

Faceoff between the Flyers and Capitals is set for 8 p.m.

Flyers Leaders GP G A P Capitals Leaders GP G A P
Claude Giroux 72 22 42 64 Evgeny Kuznetsov 75 20 53 73
Brayden Schenn 73 24 29 53 Nicklas Backstrom 72 20 47 67
Wayne Simmonds 75 26 26 52 Alex Ovechkin 73 43 21 64
Jakub Voracek 66 10 40 50 Justin Williams 75 22 28 50
Shayne Gostisbehere 57 16 26 42 T.J. Oshie 73 24 22 46
 
Player to Watch
93 Jake Voracek 92 Evgeny Kuznetsov
Last 5 Games: 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, +1 Last 5 Games: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, -5
 
Jake Voracek really struggled in Monday's overtime win over the Jets and has not looked like himself since returning six games ago. But much like Wayne Simmonds, who climbed out of a scoring rut against Winnipeg, Voracek will be looking to follow up a frustrating night with success.
 
There are so many players you could pick from the Washington lineup and the easy choice is Alex Ovechkin. But Evgeny Kuznetsov has really been the driving force behind the Capitals offense. Ovechkin may pile up the goals, but Kuznetsov isn't the point leader on the best team in the NHL for no reason and brings a plethora of dazzling moves to the ice. Interestingly enough, Kuznetsov is on a five-goal pointless streak, but had points in five straight games before that. He also has four points against the Flyers this season. 
 
Goalie Matchup
35 Steve Mason 70 Braden Holtby
20-17-9, 2.52 GAA, .918 SV% 46-9-4, 2.19 GAA, .923 SV%

Steve Mason has been the Flyers rock in net over the last six games and been brilliant in all of them. In the last six games, since Michal Neuvirth went down with injury, the Flyers netminder has a 3-2-1 record with a 1.97 GAA and .937 save percentage — 178 saves on 190 shots. 

Braden Holtby is likely going to win the Vezina Trophy and deservedly so. Forget the win-loss record here, as the Capitals have played well in front of him, but Holtby is certainly the reason the Capitals are where they are. Holtby allowed five goals against Pittsburgh on March 20, but otherwise has been brilliant, allowing two goals or less in five of his last six starts.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Scratches: Scott LaughtonEvgeny Medvedev, R.J. Umberger, Jordan WealMichael Del Zotto

Left Wing Center Right Wing
10 Brayden Schenn 28 Claude Giroux 17 Wayne Simmonds
12 Michael Raffl 14 Sean Couturier 89 Sam Gagner
93 Jake Voracek 52 Nick Cousins 24 Matt Read
76 Chris VandeVelde 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare 25 Ryan White
Defense    
47 Andrew MacDonald 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
55 Nick Schultz 32 Mark Streit  
23 Brandon Manning 3 Radko Gudas  
Goalie    
35 Steve Mason    

The Flyers lineup will remain the same as in Monday night's win.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (T-17th, 27th at home), Capitals (2nd, T-4th on road)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (T-19th, 21st at home), Capitals (4th, 6th on road) 
  • Recent History vs. Capitals
    • Nov. 12, 2015 – The Flyers fell to the Capitals, 5-2, in Philadelphia. The Flyers took a 2-1 lead on goals by Scott Laughton and Claude Giroux. But Washington struck for three second-period goals, two from Jason Chimera and one from Justin Williams. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for Washington. Braden Holtby made 18 saves in the win. Steve Mason made 27 saves in the loss.
    • Jan. 27, 2016 – The Flyers picked up a 4-3 win in overtime in Washington. Brayden Schenn and Ryan White scored in the first to open up a 2-0 Flyers lead, but Andre Burakovsky and Nicklas Backstrom scored 55 seconds apart to tie the game. A late goal in the second by Jake Voracek gave the Flyers the lead through two. Burakovsky scored early in the third to tie the game, but Voracek struck just 38 seconds into overtime to give the Flyers the win. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in the loss while Michal Neuvirth made 27 saves in the win.
    • Feb. 7, 2016 – The Flyers suffered a 3-2 loss to the Capitals in Washington. The Flyers took a late first-period lead on a goal by Michael Del Zotto. Washington tied the game with just over four minutes to play in the second on a goal by Alex Ovechkin and took the lead just 1:09 later on a goal by Dmitry Orlov. The Flyers tied the game just 51 seconds in the third on a goal by Nick Schultz, but Matt Niskanen's goal at 5:24 stood up as Braden Holtby made 33 saves to secure the win. Steve Mason made 27 saves in the loss.
  • Flyers leaders vs. Capitals
    • Claude Giroux – 28 games, 15 goals, 15 assists, 30 points
    • Jake Voracek – 24 games, 11 goals, 7 assists, 18 points
    • Shayne Gostisbehere – 2 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points
    • Steve Mason – 15 games, 7-5-2, 2.85 GAA, .904 Sv%
  • Milestone Watch
    • Sean Couturier needs 1 assist to reach 100 in his career.
    • Claude Giroux needs 1 points to pass Reggie Leach for 12th all-time in Flyers franchise history.
    • Steve Mason is playing in his 400th NHL game tonight. Wayne Simmonds is playing in his 600th NHL game tonight.

Where to Watch
TV: NBCSN
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

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