Pregame #74: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Washington Capitals (42-21-10) at Philadelphia Flyers (44-19-8)
Location: Wachovia Center
7:30 PM
TV:   Versus (HD), TSN2 (HD)
Radio: 1500AM, 820 AM, and XM
Previous Meetings:
Nov 7, 2010 PHI@WSH 3-2 W (OT)
Nov 20, 2010 PHI@WSH, 4-5 SOL
Jan 18 2011 WSH@PHI, 2-3 OTL
Games Remaining: None
The Enemy: Our Bloguin Partner: Flyers Goal Scored By…, Broad Street Hockey

The Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers will be vying for the top seed in the Eastern Conference tonight.  The Capitals have been hot, winning 10 of their last 11 games.  The Flyers, on the other hand, have been treading water, as they are 4-4-2 in their last 10.  Three of their last four games have gone past regulation, which is also the story of their season series with the Caps.  The Capitals have won one game in overtime and lost one each in overtime and in the shootout against the Flyers this season.

Injury Report:  The Caps will be without star LW Alexander Ovechkin, who will rest a variety of bumps and bruises. C Jason Arnott (groin) is listed as week-to-week and RW Eric Fehr (upper body) is listed as day-to-day. Defensemen Mike Green (head) and Tom Poti (groin) are on long-term injured reserve. G Semyon Varlamov (knee) will be making his return tonight as backup. D John Erskine (illness) should be ready to play.
-The Flyers will be without D Chris Pronger (hand) and D Oskars Bartulis (shoulder).

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What to watch for:

Balancing Act: The Philadelphia Flyers have achieved remarkable scoring balance.  They have three players with 60 points and six with 43 or more.  They also have five 20+ goal scorers and nine with 10 or more.  It will be difficult for the Caps defense to focus on one scoring line, they will have to play solid defense against all of them if they don’t want to get burned. 

Falling Stars:  With D Chris Pronger out for the Flyers and LW Alex Ovechkin out for the Caps, the national telecast will be missing out on some big names.  Not to fear, there will still be enough talent to go around, as the Caps boast Alex Semin and Nick Backstrom and the Flyers still have Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.  Plan to stay up late, as it’s a 7:30 start and this game is probably going to overtime.

Rookie Power:  The Capitals big trio of rookies is well known in these parts.  Center Marcus Johansson has been hot lately with 2 goals, 6 points, and a +7 rating in his last 8 games.  Defenseman John Carlson has been lighting up the opposition with 1 goal, 4 points, and a +4 rating in his last 3 games, and he leads all rookie defensemen with 26 assists.  But the big matchup tonight is in net, where Michal Neuvirth faces off against Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.  “Neuvi” has already set the Capitals rookie record for wins (23) and sits 3rd among NHL rookies.  He also posted a shutout in his last game, giving him an NHL rookie leading 4 on the season, which also ties the Caps rookie record.  “Bob” sits second with 26 wins, only Chicago’s Corey Crawford (28) has won more games, and the young Russian is the reason why the Flyers survived big goaltending injuries to start the year.