Sunday afternoon, we watched nearly the best case scenario for the Flyers. Despite showing some signs of rust, the Flyers came out with an impressive 4-1 victory over the President’s Trophy winning Boston Bruins on Sunday. Not only did they come out with the win, but we watched some crucial x-factors unfold. The bottom six produced at a high level, Carter Hart showed signs of veteran-like poise between the pipes, and the young defensive core led the way as well.
The Flyers looked like a team trying to prove something to not only the NHL, but their fans as well. They came out with an edge, and showed how well they could play heading into these playoffs. Looking to get better seeding, Philadelphia simply outplayed and dominated the Bruins. They will look to carry this same momentum into Thursday, when they face the Washington Capitals.
Puck drop is slated for 4 PM, and you can catch the game on NBC, with radio coverage on 97.5 the Fantatic. Currently, betting lines are still being set.
Per the NHL guidelines, teams are not allowed to disclose any information about injuries during the restart. However, it’s no secret that Michael Raffl likely isn’t sick, and suffered an injury in Sunday’s game. Raffl got tangled up with a Bruin and awkwardly fell into the boards. With this said, Joel Farabee will be working his way into the lineup for Thursday.
Michael Raffl looked like a man on a mission Sunday afternoon, scoring a goal and an assist. He will be a big loss for the Flyers’ bottom six moving forward, but Joel Farabee isn’t a bad option to replace him. Raffl will “not be available for a while” according to head coach Alain Vigneault, so Farabee just became that much more vital to a deep run.
As for the Capitals, stud defenseman John Carlson did not play in their loss on Monday. He practiced Wednesday, but is considered day-to-day as of right now, and questionable for the game against the Flyers.
Capitals Round Robin
In case you missed it, the Washington Capitals did have a well-played game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite going down 2-0 early in the second period, they fought back for the second half of the game. After forcing overtime against the high powered Bolts, they came up short after a shootout.
The Capitals were without John Carlson, however the Lightning were without captain Steve Stamkos. The Capitals looked sluggish to start, but bounced back and showed their potential.
The Flyers and Caps faced off four times this season. The Flyers took the series 3-1, with the later half of the season being in dominating fashion. After dropping game one against Washington back in November, the Flyers followed that up with a 3-2 win, 7-2 win, and 5-2 win once the new year started.
The Flyers have evidently had the Caps’ number this season. Washington is going to bring their A-game against the division rival, however, they have not seemed to matchup well against Philly this season. If Carlson does not return to the lineup for the Caps as well, this could be a game favoring Philadelphia.
Players to Watch
About a month ago, the Flyers’ team at Philly Sports Network wrote about the top five Flyers against each qualifying team. The five against Washington, however, do not come as much of a surprise. For Sunday’s game, make sure to continue to watch the veteran guys. The Flyers will need to rely on Matt Niskanen, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier and James van Reimsdyk, all of which have incredible success in their careers against the Capitals.
Another intriguing name to watch is Brian Elliott, who Vigneault gave the nod to for this game. Elliott enters Thursday night having gone 2-0-0 against the Caps this season. His save percentage sits at .926 and he’s allowed an even 2 goals per game. With Washington being seemingly the easier of the two remaining games, giving the matchup to Elliott may be just the right move to get him back in the swing of things.
On the flip side, it’s always fun to watch a guy like Alexander Ovechkin play. The future Hall of Famer may not torment the Flyers like Sidney Crosby, but he still produces points at a high rate. He has 59 points in 57 career games against the Flyers. T.J. Oshie also has played well against Philadelphia. Since joining the Caps, Oshie has 11 points (6g-5a) in 19 games against the Flyers, including a goal and an assist through the four regular games of the season series.
This game has more confidence gleaming over the Flyers than the opening game on Sunday. Unlike Boston, the Capitals have shown signs of weakness against Philly during the regular season. Only beating the Flyers one time this season as mentioned earlier, Washington does not seem to match up well.
If there is one thing that Philly fans do, it’s that they get overly confident based upon a small sample size. Whether it be the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, or Flyers, fans constantly give these teams the benefit of the doubt, whether they deserve it or not. However, the Flyers finally deserve this recognition. They have battled hard this season and have overcome a lot of adversity.
The Flyers have proven to fans they deserve to be favored in this game, and many games to come. Let’s scratch up a 5-3 final score in favor of the Flyers, and a lock at moving up to at least the third seed.
Mandatory Credit – © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports