Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs Washington Capitals

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Last night’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was not one that the Philadelphia Flyers could afford. The road trip was the furthest thing away from what was planned. One could say that the Flyers were a bad call away from winning the game on the Jakub Voracek goal that was called dead prematurely. However, that cannot be rewritten. Philadelphia has to have a short memory and pick up their quality play at home with a big win against the Washington Capitals tonight.

It’s been sixteen days since the Philadelphia Flyers have played a game at the Wells Fargo Center. In their first game at home this decade, they face the leaders of the Metropolitan Division. The Washington Capitals defeated the Flyers in a shootout the last time they visited. Both teams are playing their second game in back-to-back nights, but only the Capitals won last night. Interestingly enough, Washington has the worst record against Metropolitan Division opponents while Philadelphia has the best record against Metropolitan Division opponents.

Carter Hart is back in the net tonight for the Philadelphia Flyers as they return home. At the opposite end of the ice, Braden Holtby gets the nod as the starting goaltender for the Washington Capitals. In the last ten games against each other, the Capitals own a 7-3 record against the Flyers. That includes the 2-1 shootout victory earlier this season. On the injury report, Washington lists Christian Djoos with an upper-body injury.

Washington Capitals – Skaters

Before we speak about one of the best forwards in the NHL, it’s worth mentioning that a defenseman is leading the team in points. John Carlson is only one of two defensemen in the NHL that leads their team in points. This season, Carlson has tallied 54 points and is the premier playmaker on the Washington Capitals powerplay. He blocks shots on defense, stopping 72 this season. Another hallmark of Carlson’s great season is that he rarely takes a bad penalty, only serving eighteen minutes all season.

A more obvious choice is Alexander Ovechkin, who has logged 42 points this season. He’s still the goal scorer that we all have come to expect, tallying 26 this season with nine on the powerplay. Ovechkin is scoring on 12.6% of the shots he takes this season. While leading in goals scored for the Washington Capitals, he is also second in hits with 122. What else do you expect from an elite hockey player?

Washington Capitals – Goaltender

The former Hershey Bear, Braden Holtby, starts against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tonight will be his 31st game started this season, wielding an 18-7-4 record in the net. If the Flyers want to have a shot, they have to get Holtby off guard early. He has a 90.2% save percentage this season and a goals-against-average of 2.99 per game. Half of his starts are quality starts.

Faceoff Possession

Only one of the teams in this game has a team faceoff win percentage over 50%. The Washington Capitals are at 49.4% while the Philadelphia Flyers maintain 54.6%. On the Capitals, the best faceoff opportunists are Lars Eller, Nicklas Backstrom, and Chandler Stephenson. For the Flyers, they look to Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Scott Laughton. The advantage here stays with Philadelphia.

Prediction

Tonight’s game is a gut check game for the Philadelphia Flyers as they take on the top team in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers have played incredibly at home this season and then have lost their identity on the road. Philadelphia’s defense is going to have to tame a lethal offense. It’ll be a close game, but if the Flyers want to get momentum, they need to win in regulation. However, my prediction stands in favor of the Washington Capitals, 3-2.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The money line favors the Washington Capitals at -125 with an over-under set at 6.5. Follow me at EricReesePSN and Philly Sports Network at PhiladelphiaSN on Twitter!

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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