Flyers-Capitals: Game 1 Preview

1st Round Series opens in D.C.

It's time. Playoff hockey is back.

The Philadelphia Flyers made their return to the playoffs against tough odds, overcoming a slow start and injuries to several top players to boot. The Washington Capitals, meanwhile, only posted the best record in the NHL, won the President's Trophy and come equipped with the league's best goalie and best scorer this season.

Faceoff in Game 1 between the Flyers and Capitals is set for 7 p.m.

Flyers Leaders GP G A P Capitals Leaders GP G A P
Claude Giroux 78 22 45 67 Evgeny Kuznetsov 82 20 57 77
Wayne Simmonds 81 32 28 60 Alex Ovechkin 79 50 21 71
Brayden Schenn 80 26 33 59 Nicklas Backstrom 75 20 50 70
Jakub Voracek 73 11 44 55 Justin Williams 82 22 30 52
Shayne Gostisbehere 64 17 29 46 T.J. Oshie 80 26 25 51
Player to Watch
28 Claude Giroux 8 Alex Ovechkin
Last 5 Games: 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, -3 Last 5 Games: 6 G, 0 A, 6 P, +4
Claude Giroux leads the Flyers into their first playoff series since 2014. The Flyers captain got the final game of the regular season off and returns to the lineup. The playoffs seem to bring out the best in Giroux. He has 61 career points in 57 games in the playoffs.
In Game 82, all Alex Ovechkin did was reach an even 50 goals on the regular season with a hat trick. The greatest Russian-born scorer in NHL history has seen the Flyers before in the playoffs — nine points in a seven-game series in 2008 — and with one of the best power-play units in the NHL, the focus has to remain on Ovechkin at all times.
Goalie Matchup
35 Steve Mason 70 Braden Holtby
23-19-10, 2.51 GAA, .918 SV% 48-9-7, 2.20 GAA, .922 SV%

Steve Mason carried the Flyers into the playoffs and now he must carry them through the playoffs as well. Mason got his win-loss numbers into respectable territory with his final month of the season and finally got a day off on the season's final day on Sunday. Refreshed after the brief time off, Mason gets the call in a playoff series again. Mason is 2-6-0 with a 3.11 GAA in eight career playoff games, but had a 1.97 GAA in four games against the Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

You'll hear it a lot during the playoffs, but Braden Holtby was far and away the best goalie in the NHL this season. Also making noise in Game 82, he tied an NHL record with his 48th win of the season. In his career, Holtby has a 16-18-0 record but a 1.92 GAA in 34 games. Against the Flyers, he is 6-4-6 with a 2.76 GAA in 17 games.

Flyers Projected Lineup

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

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

The Flyers shuffled up the lines a bit, but the players within the lineup remain the same as the stretch run of the regular season.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (T-11th, 11th on road), Capitals (5th, 8th at home)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (T-20th, 14th on road), Capitals (2nd, 3rd at home) 
  • 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.
    • March 30, 2016 – The Flyers defeated the Capitals, 2-1, in a shootout. After two scoreless periods, Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play 1:28 into the third. The Flyers tied the game with a power-play goal by Brayden Schenn with 5:28 to play. The Flyers killed off a penalty in overtime and in the shootout, got goals from Nick Cousins and Sam Gagner while Steve Mason made saves on T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Mason stopped 29 shots in the win.
  • Flyers Playoff History vs. Capitals
    • 1984 Patrick Division Semi-final: Capitals win series, 3-0
    • 1988 Patrick Division Semi-final: Capitals win series, 4-3
    • 1989 Patrick Division Semi-final: Flyers win series, 4-2
    • 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Flyers win series, 4-3
  • Flyers leaders vs. Capitals
    • Claude Giroux – 29 games, 15 goals, 16 assists, 31 points
    • Jake Voracek – 25 games, 11 goals, 7 assists, 18 points
    • Shayne Gostisbehere – 3 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points
    • Steve Mason – 16 games, 8-5-2, 2.71 GAA, .908 Sv%

Where to Watch
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

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

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