Flyers vs. Capitals – 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Flyers: 9-11-1 (Third in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)
Capitals: 7-10-1 (Fourth in Southeast Division, 13th in Eastern Conference)
The last time these two teams faced off the Flyers wrapped up a four-game road trip with a 3-2 loss to the Capitals on Feb. 1. Bruno Gervais and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers, while Nicklas Backstrom picked up a goal and an assist for Washington.
Wednesday will mark the second of three meetings between the Flyers and Caps this season.
The Flyers again failed to reach the .500 mark this year after suffering a frustrating 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Scott Hartnell, in his second game back from a left foot injury, netted his first goal of the season and the red-hot Jakub Voracek registered a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to six consecutive contests.
Less than 24 hours ago, Washington shut down former Cap Alexander Semin and the Carolina Hurricanes to earn a 3-0 victory. Braden Holtby, who inked a two-year contract extension on Monday, made 33 saves to record his fifth career shutout. John Carlson and Backstrom both finished the game with a goal and an assist.
Voracek, who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday, has been absolutely on fire for the orange and black. The 23-year-old has recorded at least one point in each of his last six games and has tallied five goals and nine assists during that span.
Claude Giroux has turned things around after a slow start to the season. The Flyers’ captain has a five-game points streak (three goals, seven assists) entering Wednesday’s contest and should continue to stuff the scoresheet playing with Hartnell and Voracek on the top line.
For the Caps, Mike Ribeiro, who was traded to Washington by the Dallas Stars in exchange for Cody Eakin and a 2012 second-round pick this past summer, is the only player on the team averaging at least one point per game. He has collected six goals and 16 assists through 18 contests this year.
Keep an eye on...
As you may have heard, the Flyers acquired Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional 2013 fourth-round draft pick (third-round, if they make the playoffs) on Tuesday. Gagne, who spent his first 10 seasons in the NHL in Philadelphia, will suit up for the orange and black against Washington on Wednesday. The veteran forward should bring an added offensive edge, although his production has diminished over the past few seasons.
Alex Ovechkin hasn’t looked like the dominant player he was in his first six seasons over the past year and a half, but the Capitals’ captain has enjoyed plenty of success playing in Philadelphia. In 15 career games – including the playoffs – in the City of Brotherly Love, Ovie has 14 goals and nine assists. He enters Wednesday with five points in his last two games overall.
The Flyers have to make sure they remained disciplined against Washington. The Capitals have the second-best power-play unit in the NHL (28.6 percent). That doesn’t bode well for the Flyers, who have been shorthanded 88 times this season. That’s the second-highest total in the entire league.
Did you know?
The Flyers selected Gagne, who will turn 33 on Friday, in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1998 NHL draft.
He has been a recipient of the Bobby Clarke Trophy, as the team’s most valuable player, on two occasions (2005-06, 2006-07) and has been an NHL All-Star two times in his career (2000-01, 2006-07).
Gagne also ranks ninth on the Flyers’ all-time list in goals (259) and 10th in points (524) and games played (664).
Flyers: Rookie Tye McGinn suffered an orbital bone fracture during his fight with Toronto’s Mike Brown on Monday night. General manager Paul Holmgren said the Flyers lost McGinn for “a few weeks.”
Matt Read (torn rib cage muscles), Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder), Michael Leighton (finger) and Jody Shelley (hip) are all on injured reserve.
Capitals: Mike Green returned to Washington’s lineup on Tuesday after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
Brooks Laich (strained groin), Jack Hillen (upper-body) and Dmitry Orlov are all on injured reserve and remain sidelined.
Marcus Johansson, who has missed the last seven games for the Caps, was placed on IR on Tuesday with an upper-body injury.
What are your expectations for Gagne?