Losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins sucks.
There isn’t any more eloquent wording than that. It encapsulates how every Philadelphia Flyers fan feels.
In my previous preview versus the Penguins, I called them flightless birds. Technically, I’m not wrong. They’re flightless, just like the crow I’m eating after advising all of you to take the Flyers as the underdog. That loss was worse than the shutout Philadelphia endured in Calgary.
But, this is a new culture. Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault are architects of a lineup that earned a shutout victory following that loss to the Calgary Flames. However, that was the winless Arizona Coyotes. Tonight, the Flyers hope to bounce back against the Washington Capitals. A win in regulation against the Capitals tonight ties Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division through ten games.
The Flyers must find their stride before going back out on the road to visit the Carolina Hurricanes. Starting with a win tonight and carrying that momentum back home versus the Toronto Maple Leafs is critical. Kevin Hayes may return once Philadelphia returns to the Wells Fargo Center, setting up another vital ten-game stretch.
Heading into this game, both Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are closing in on significant milestones. Ovi is a mere two goals short of passing Brett Hull (741g) for fourth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Along with this, he’s only two assists shy of number 600 for his career, where he would only be the ninth active player to reach that step. The Caps’ captain also is averaging nearly two points per game, with 18 in 10 games this season.
In addition, Evgeny Kuznetsov is one point away from passing Dennis Maruk for 11th place on the Caps franchise points list and three assists shy of 300 career assists. All of these stats are courtesy of https://www.nhl.com/capitals/multimedia/caps-today.
Nic Dowd and Anthony Mantha both remain on injured reserve and will be out for this one. The same goes for TJ Oshie, who is debating on foot surgery. However, for the most part there are no current changes to their lineup compared to their overtime loss to Florida on Thursday night aside from Hendrix Lapierre returning. The rookie has one point in five games so far this season.
On the season, Washington is 5-1-4 and sits in third place of the Metro.
A Philadelphia Fly-By
Martin Jones gets the start tonight. In his career against Washington, he’s 5-4-1 with a 3.01 GAA. However, Philadelphia does get a nice three-day break before puck drop against the Maple Leafs, so AV may ride the hot hand with Carter Hart playing so well. Hart is 2-3-1 with a 2.89 GAA in six career starts.
Last season, the Flyers went 2-5 against the Capitals during their tough season. They’ll look to rebound and start the season series against the division rival off on the right foot.
On the Fanduel Sportsbook, the Flyers are +138 puckline underdogs heading into the 7:07 puckdrop. The over/under is currently sitting at six.
Scott Laughton could be the difference-maker in this one. In eight games against Washington last season, he picked up five goals. He’s riding back-to-back games with a goal and will aim to continue that momentum against a team he’s had good success against in his career.
This game will be close, and one net will be empty at the end of the game, but I would expect this to be a one-goal game. Unfortunately, I think Vegas is accurate with this one. Chalk up a 4-3 Washington win.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre