Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers went to the nation’s capital and absolutely decimated the Washington Capitals. The 5-2 victory lifted the Flyers to one point back of the Caps for first in the Metro. The boys are buzzin’ and the Flyers are a good hockey team.
Now, the Flyers will be at Wells Fargo Center to kick off a pivotal three-game homestand as they host another division rival. Philadelphia (39-20-7) host the Carolina Hurricanes (35-24-5) Thursday night.
Catch the game at 7 p.m. EST with coverage beginning at 6:30 on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The Flyers (-150) are moderate favorites over the Hurricanes (+125), with the over/under set at 5.5 goals.
In last night’s victory over the Capitals, James Van Riemsdyk took a puck to the wrist. During an in-game interview, coach Alain Vigneault mentioned that JVR is ‘expected to miss an undetermined amount of time.’ Joel Farabee has been recalled to fill the void of JVR on the third line.
On the side of Carolina, both of their top two goaltenders are out. Petr Mrazek (concussion) and James Reimer (lower body) suffered injuries in the game, causing the emergency goalie miracle to happen against the Maples Leafs. Alex Nedeljkovic has filled in during their absences.
Alex Nedeljkovic vs. Carter Hart
Nedeljkovic has been holding down the fort while Reimer and Mrazek are injured. The Calder Cup-winning goalie is 0-1-1 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .857 save percentage in his one start and two appearances so far.
Carter Hart has been stellar at home for the Flyers, especially recently. On the season, Hart is 22-12-3 with a 2.51 GAA and .909 SV% in his 40 appearances. He allowed one goal on 34 shots in his only appearance against the Hurricanes in a Nov. 5 win. In his last three appearances, Hart has stopped 75 shots, allowing only 2.33 goals per game (.915 save %) en route to his 3-0-0 record.
Key to the Game:
Early and Often
The Hurricanes have been trending the polar opposite direction than the Flyers recently. In their last five, the Canes have only beaten the Maples Leafs, when they called upon their emergency goaltender. Since then, they have failed to record a win.
With an inexperienced tendie between the pipes for the Canes, the Flyers have to shoot in bunches. Per Jordan Hall, the Flyers have scored an NHL-best 87 goals (3.78 per game), as well as 4.75 goals per game since the all-star break. Scoring tonight shouldn’t be an issue for Philly, and they need to get shots on Nedeljkovic early.
Player to Watch:
Back in November, the captain potted a pair of goals and assists in a 5-3 victory over the Canes. In his career, Giroux averages slightly over a points per game (44 points in 43 games) against Carolina.
G has 15 points over his last 12 games and has been making his presence felt once again. The captain should be a difference-maker tonight against the Canes once again.
Ah, gotta love a streaking team. It’s so hard to say they won’t win, because they’re clearly the better team. Along with this, how long can this streak last; what’re the odds an NHL team wins eight straight games in a row?
Well, they’re pretty good, because the Flyers will win again tonight.
Talent alone, the Flyers outmatch the Canes. Mix that in with goaltender problems for Carolina, along with the momentum moving in opposite directions, AND the Flyers playing at home… this should be a win.
Bold prediction: Flyers win 4-2, and Capitals lose in overtime to the Rangers.
Yes, the Flyers will be tied for first in the Metro for the first time since the 2010-2011 season after tonight.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University