Flyers Invade Nation's Capital in Hopes to Leave With A Win
Philadelphia Flyers (2-5-0) at Washington Capitals (1-5-1)
Verizon Center — Washington D.C.
7:00 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet
Setting the Stage:
Both teams are struggling immensely coming out of the gate, but at least the Flyers have looked like a good team at times during their struggles. The same can't be said for Washington.
The Flyers are hoping to snap out of their mini two-game skid in which they have scored only two goals following a 7-1 win over the Panthers last Saturday. Washington has only earned points in two of their games this season as well.
Both captains Claude Giroux and Alex Ovechkin have been practically invisible this season so far. Giroux hasn't registered a point in the last two games, and has two goals and two assists on the year. Ovechkin has only two goals and one assist on the season.
It'll be fun to see Mike Knuble return to Washington. Knuble spent the last three season with Washington, scoring 59 goals. Prior to that stint, Knuble spent four years with the Flyers.
The Flyers are looking to come off their four-game road trip with a win. They will head home after this game for the next four games starting with Carolina on Saturday.
What to Expect:
Either team is due for an offensive outburst at this point. Washington has been so atrocious that the Flyers should be able to again snap out of their mini funk much like they did against a bad team in Florida last Saturday. But at the same time Washington has been invisible for so long that players like Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (0 goals, 4 assists) could explode.
Washington played last night in Toronto, losing 3-2. They could very well be exhausted for tonight's game, especially with the Flyers having not played since Tuesday.
Giroux has been practicing on the first line with Wayne Simmonds and Danny Briere. Simmonds leads the Flyers with five points while Briere has yet to get on the score sheet. Simmonds has been fantastic on that top line and the Flyers hope his grit will help both Giroux and Briere get themselves back on the scoresheet.
The difference in this game will be the goaltending. Though both teams are known for their offense, they are struggling in the scoring department. Luckily for the Flyers, they aren't struggling between the pipes all thanks to Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Masked Men:
Ilya Bryzgalov has been the lone MVP of the Flyers so far. Despite a 2-4 record, Bryzgalov has a 2.19 GAA and a .924 save percentage. He was excellent in the Flyers 2-1 loss to the Rangers, stopping 26 shots.
Braden Holtby will get the start for the Capitals after Michael Nuevirth saw action in the last five games. Holtby was in net for the Caps' first two losses, allowing 10 goals on 83 shots to give him a dismal 5.04 GAA and 8.63 save percentage.
Keys to the Game:
1. Shoot. Washington's netminder Holtby hasn't played in five games, and even when he was playing he was terrible. If the Flyers keep putting pressure on Holtby they could possibly chase him from his third start of the season.
2. Fresh legs. The Flyers will have fresh legs for this game, whereas the Capitals are coming off a brutal 3-2 loss in which they were short-handed eight times. If the Flyers can make Washington chase them all game they will win.
3. Simmonds. Simmonds' job tonight will be to create scoring chances for both Giroux and Briere. He is the team leader in points and his high-energy style of play is what those two need to snap out of their scoring drought. Giroux hasn't registered a point in two games and Briere hasn't in three.
Danny Briere on where the team stands at 2-5-0: "I really believe with the team that we have, [when] we play the way we're capable, we play with the same intensity that we played with in the third period against the Rangers things are going to be fine. That I know, but we have to make it happen on the ice."