Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals clash to close the Flyers preseason. Alain Vigneault and Peter Laviolette will send lineups akin to their opening night. It’s the final opportunity to work out the kinks and find a groove before the regular season.
Martin Jones, who played better than the scoreboard reflected earlier this week, is slated to make tonight’s start for Philadelphia. With the opening night defense in front of him, we’ll have an idea of how he’ll look against the verifiable competition.
Another focal point in tonight’s preseason finale is the 4LW role. Morgan Frost didn’t make the cut, which was Fletcher’s decision. The 4C position belongs to Nate Thompson currently, but on his left is Garrett Wilson. Cates, the thirteenth forward, is a fluid passer with veterans along the blue line, moving the puck well in the victory versus the Boston Bruins. Wilson is an unknown commodity within the Flyers system, but his advanced 5v5 metrics show he could be an ideal fit on the fourth line.
When the final horn sounds on tonight’s game, Philadelphia will have a better understanding of how they’ll attack opening night. Lines could change minimally, especially at 4LW, where they must decide who occupies that slot. The Flyers face a test against the Capitals, but iron sharpens iron. It’s only a preseason finale, but Philadelphia must pass the test.
A season ago, Conor Sheary became a notable Philadelphia Flyers killer with the Washington Capitals. Sheary had six points in eight games versus the Flyers, scoring a game-winning goal once. In a dangerous offense where Sheary is hardly scratching the surface, that’s a critical hit. He and TJ Oshie will be on a line with Hendrix Lapierre.
Defensively, the Capitals are figuring out their pairs. Michal Kempny, Matt Irwin, and Trevor van Riemsdyk are vying for the blue line openings created when Zdeno Chara and Brenden Dillon moved on. Peter Laviolette is very familiar with Irwin, previously undrafted and entering his decade season in the NHL. As impressive is van Riemsdyk, also undrafted but entering his eighth NHL season. Washington could value van Riemsdyk more, considering his protection from the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
From the Capitals perspective, defense is the hot story heading into tonight’s matchup. Washington recently got their first preseason victory, while Philadelphia’s mixture of prospects and bottom-six fell recently to the New York Islanders starters.
An Eye on Philadelphia
Cutting Morgan Frost created a trickle-down effect in terms of what to focus on in tonight’s game.
First, Oskar Lindblom strays from Derick Brassard and Cam Atkinson. James van Riemsdyk goes to 3RW and Joel Farabee to 2LW. The configuration of the wings is brand new in the middle six. Lindblom began building chemistry with Brassard and Atkinson on the third line during the preseason, which is why it’s shocking to see that line broken. Playing van Riemsdyk and Farabee on opposite ends of their primary wing presents a new challenge for the Washington Capitals in terms of matchups.
Next, Scott Laughton remains at 3C. Instead, Brassard jumps to 2C. On an individual effort level, the top nine are still an efficient bunch. Alain Vigneault is spreading his proficient, two-hundred-foot forwards throughout the lineup.
The seventh defenseman tonight is Cam York. He wasn’t rerouted to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms from the Philadelphia Flyers over training camp. That could very well change before the NHL season begins.
Flyers vs Capitals Prediction
We’re at the final preseason game, which means it’s my last set of predictions of what may happen during tonight’s game. Next time, we’ll predict winners and losers since the games will be meaningful.
- Martin Jones win.
- Keith Yandle powerplay assist.
- Joel Farabee scores.
- A perfect penalty kill.
The puck drops tonight at 7pm. All the action will be ready for stream on the NHL Network.