Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Capitals

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Mar 24, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (53) advances the puck against Washington Capitals left wing Carl Hagelin (62) during the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Alain Vigneault, on 97.5 The Fanatic, said: “we’re a playoff team,” when speaking about his Philadelphia Flyers. Any coach needs to have that fire and gumption to make it in the NHL. With the play of the Flyers in these past six games, it is easy to see where Vigneault’s declaration comes from. Tonight, the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals come to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It’s time to stop talking about being a playoff team and show that Philadelphia can defeat championship-caliber opponents.

Tied for the NHL’s longest active winning streak with the San Jose Sharks is the Philadelphia Flyers with four wins. The last six games, the Flyers have received points towards the standings, but the Washington Capitals have doubled that feat, recording points in the last twelve games. Both teams have played games past regulation through those streaks, but the Flyers currently have the winning momentum heading into tonight’s contest. In head to head battles, the Capitals have been able to walk the walk, winning every game last season between the two clubs.

Tonight, Carter Hart will be getting the start at goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers against the Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby. Over the last ten games, the Capitals have the advantage over the Flyers, 7-3. If this game were to go into a shootout however, recent history would give the advantage to Philadelphia. On the injury report, the Flyers only have Samuel Morin listed with a torn ACL in his right knee. Washington lists Carl Hagelin as out with an upper-body injury.

Washington Capitals – Skaters

This is a rare occurrence this year when a defenseman is also the leading scorer of a team. Offensively and defensively, look out for the ruckus that John Carlson brings to the table. He has 29 points on the year, breaking down to 21 assists and 8 goals. Most of his production is during even-strength hockey, but he contributes to the powerplay too. Carlson has scored 14.8% of the shots he takes.

Making his return to Philadelphia tonight is Radko Gudas. When speaking about someone who left the Philadelphia Flyers, like Wayne Simmonds, a revenge factor is always on the mind. Gudas is a physical presence that the Flyers need, blocking 30 shots and dishing out 43 hits. With a +/- of 9 this season, he is doing fine on the ice with his teammates. He does lead the Washington Capitals in penalty minutes with 21.

Washington Capitals – Goaltending

A former Hershey Bear, Braden Holtby, gets the start for the Washington Capitals tonight in Philadelphia. Of his 13 starts this season, he’s had three that weren’t good, but six quality starts. He totes the record of 8-1-3 this season, where he was swapped for Ilya Samsonov once. Holtby has maintained an 89.8% save percentage and posts a 3.25 goal against average. He has yet to earn a shutout this season while Carter Hart has one.

Faceoff Possession

Philadelphia has a slight advantage at the faceoff circle this season. The Washington Capitals are just treading at 50% as a team, while the Philadelphia Flyers stand at 54.4%. Six players for the Flyers are above 50% in faceoff wins; Andy Andreoff, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, and Michael Raffl. Five players for the Capitals are above 50% in faceoff wins; Richard Panik, Lars Eller, Chandler Stephenson, Carl Hagelin, and Travis Boyd. If Philadelphia can possess the puck tonight against Washington, the upset could be achieved.

Prediction

If momentum can play into the favor of both teams, the Philadelphia Flyers are holding onto that over the Washington Capitals. Defensively, the Capitals are more dangerous, but the Flyers are coming into their own with their younger talent. Offensively, it isn’t out of touch to say that Philadelphia can hang with the NHL’s elite. The Flyers are the underdog, but they’re home and Philadelphia loves an underdog. My prediction is Flyers over Capitals, 4-3, in a shootout.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The money line favors the Washington Capitals at -120 with an over-under at 6.5. If you like what you read here, follow PhiladelphiaSN and EricReesePSN on Twitter for more Philadelphia Flyers content.

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