Tonight in the NHL: Capitals look for first win

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Tonight in the NHL: Capitals look for first win

The Flyers are in search of their first win tonight when they play the Devils (see story).

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled according to his numbers, but a poor penalty kill unit has played a factor in his performance. Bryzgalov, in his second year with the Flyers, has actually played well looking beyond the stats (see story).

Now, here's a look at the action tonight around the NHL:

Jets at Capitals, 7 p.m.
The Washington Capitals are back home and hoping that Alex Ovechkin's top line will make amends for a poor first game.

The Capitals have won 10 straight home openers heading into Tuesday night's matchup with the Winnipeg Jets.

Washington has not dropped its Verizon Center opener since a 4-1 defeat to Los Angeles in 2000-01.

The Capitals are looking to regroup after Saturday's 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay.

The top line of Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom failed to produce a point, with Ovechkin taking all four of his shots in the first period. Coach Adam Oates is sticking with that group Tuesday.

Lightning at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't get much going in their first game in more than nine months.

Maybe they'll get energized by beginning their home schedule against a Southeast Division rival.

Carolina opens a stretch of four of five on its own ice Tuesday night against a Tampa Bay Lightning club trying to avoid back-to-back road losses.

Back from the extended NHL lockout, the Hurricanes had a rough start in what they're hoping is their first playoff season in four years, losing 5-1 to Florida on Saturday.

Kings at Avalanche, 9 p.m.
If the Los Angeles Kings are to bounce back from a rough opener, the reigning Stanley Cup champions must play better against the Colorado Avalanche than they did last season.

The visiting Kings look to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat to the Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Aside from the raising of the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship banner, Los Angeles had little to celebrate after a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Saturday. Displaying more speed and skill, the Blackhawks scored on a 5-on-3 advantage 3:41 into the game and added two more first-period goals en route to spoiling the Kings' special day.

"We took a moment to appreciate it, to look back, but now we've got to move forward," said defenseman Rob Scuderi, who matched his goal total from last season when he scored late in the second period. "If we use last season as a focus and a crutch to lean on, we're going to be out of this season pretty quick."

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2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Blackhawks LW Andrew Ladd

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Blackhawks LW Andrew Ladd

Each day until July 1, the day free agency begins, CSNPhilly.com producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.

Andrew Ladd, left wing

Age: 30
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200
Last team: Chicago Blackhawks
2015-16 cap hit: $4.4 million

Scouting report
The No. 4 overall pick in 2004 by the Carolina Hurricanes, Ladd has won two Stanley Cups, one with Carolina in 2006 and one with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

Ladd used a dominant rookie season in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen in 2003-04 to elevate himself into a top-5 pick, and has built a reputation of being a leader in the NHL.

An 11-year veteran, Ladd has played for three teams and captained the Winnipeg Jets’ franchise from 2010 when it was still in Atlanta until last season, when the Jets traded him back to the Blackhawks before the trade deadline for Chicago’s postseason run.

He first broke into the NHL during the 2005-06 season, his first year of professional hockey, which he began in the AHL. His call-up came in November, but a knee injury suffered in December kept him out until February when he went back to the AHL.

In March 2006, Carolina brought him back up for its postseason run, and Ladd contributed five points in 17 playoff games as the ‘Canes won their only Stanley Cup.

Carolina traded Ladd to Chicago at the trade deadline of the 2007-08 season, where the winger spent the next three seasons. In 2008-09, he scored 15 goals in 82 games.

With the Blackhawks in 2009-10, Ladd added 17 goals in the regular season and six points in the playoffs, but made his mark with five points in the Final against the Flyers.

Because of cap restraints, Chicago traded Ladd to Atlanta that offseason, where his career took off. He potted a career-high 29 goals in his first season with the Thrashers.

Ladd’s best season came in 2014-15, when he registered career-highs in assists (38) and points (62). He had 17 goals and 17 assists with the Jets last season in 59 games before Winnipeg sent him back to Chicago, where he had eight goals in 19 games.

He had two points for the Blackhawks, who were bounced by the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference quarterfinals in seven games.

Projection
In terms of fit, Ladd would be a nice complementary piece for the Flyers.

Ladd, 30, possesses a solid two-way game and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He’s a big winger who can score and would complement Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek well. If not on the top line, he’d be a healthy supplement on the second line.

Because the Flyers are looking for a winger with size, Ladd could be someone on general manager Ron Hextall’s radar come Friday, but it comes down to financial fit.

The Flyers have less than $12 million in cap space, according to generalfanager.com, and still have to re-sign Brayden Schenn to a healthy raise as well as a few others. Hextall would also like to have $2 million reserve in space for the season (see story)

We have to figure Ladd will cost somewhere between $4.5 million and $5 million. Can Hextall fit that on the books without moving another piece? I don’t know.

It might be tough to squeeze Ladd in cap-wise, but he would fit well here in terms of what the Flyers are looking for — a big, scoring winger.

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Blues C David Backes

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Blues C David Backes

Each day until July 1, the day free agency begins, CSNPhilly.com producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.

David Backes, center

Age: 32
Height: 6-3
Weight: 221
Last team: St. Louis Blues
2015-16 cap hit: $4.5 million

Scouting report
Backes is a veteran of 10 NHL seasons.

He’s coming off a productive 2015-16 campaign in which he registered 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points. However, the points were his lowest in a full season since 2007-08.

But the 2003 second-round draft pick makes his money by being a shutdown forward, one that’s strong on the puck and makes great use of his size and smarts.

Backes has the clutch gene, as well. He potted three gamer-winners last postseason and finished with seven goals and seven assists in 20 playoff contests, helping lead St. Louis to the Western Conference finals.

The captain is the heart and soul of the Blues, a true locker-room guy.

Projection
It’s hard to imagine Backes leaving St. Louis.

He’s beloved by the entire franchise and fan base.

“I think David's got a lot of good years left in him, I'd love to keep him here, but it has to work out for David and his family first and foremost and then it has to work into our math equation,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said on May 31, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But he's a priority." 

As for the Flyers, Backes doesn’t make much sense on multiple fronts.

He’s more suited for a win-now team in need of experience to get over the hump. The Flyers are not yet looking to add players of his age and terms. Backes may be forced to take a slight pay cut, but is still not in the Flyers’ current price range.

Heck, not many marquee names on the free-agent market are this offseason.

On top of it, the Flyers need fresher legs and greater speed.

All told, Backes isn’t right for the Flyers.

With Hall of Fame election, it all comes 'full circle' for Eric Lindros

With Hall of Fame election, it all comes 'full circle' for Eric Lindros

Eric Lindros’ career did not come with a storybook ending.

Concussions and injuries authored the final chapter of his playing days.

But on Monday afternoon, No. 88 “got his day,” as Ron Hextall put it.

In many ways, this was Lindros’ storybook finish.

“I haven’t stopped smiling,” Lindros said.

Lindros on Monday was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class (see story).

A rare breed of size and skill, Lindros quickly became an NHL star with the Flyers and now finishes as one.

“It kind of feels full circle if you can understand that," Lindros said, via conference call. 

That feeling especially resonates when he laces 'em up at 43 years old.

"I play hockey a couple times a week just to try to fit in the jeans, and to have this honor right here at the end of things when my game is certainly on the downslope," Lindros said with a laugh, "it’s a great feeling, a great honor and I’m super happy.”

Sergei Makarov, Rogie Vachon and Pat Quinn join Lindros as the 2016 group.

“I would like to thank the selection committee, things are just starting to sink in and I’m certainly honored to be a part of this class,” Lindros said. “Congratulations to Rogie, Sergei and Pat Quinn’s family. It’s a real special honor.”

Lindros, an owner of 372 career goals, 493 assists and 865 points, won the 1994-95 Hart Memorial Trophy, joining Bobby Clarke as the only Flyers players to ever take home the MVP award.

Ironically, Lindros and Clarke clashed as player and general manager, respectively.

It led to a breakup on not-so-good terms.

“When it’s all said and done, everyone wanted to win,” Lindros said. “That was the main focus.”

The past is now the past for both. Clarke pushed for Lindros’ Hall of Fame bid and the latter was grateful.

“Certainly there were some times of friction,” Lindros said, “but to have Bob’s voice in support, next to so many, I’ve got to thank them.”

Flyers GM Hextall played with Lindros and saw the uniqueness firsthand.

“It was terrific being on his team,” Hextall said. “The package of skill and size and aggressiveness, he’s got a big shot. I think at the time, he was the hardest guy in the league to defend.”

Team president Paul Holmgren said you don’t see many like Lindros, still to this day.

“Eric had a shortened career due to injuries but the impact he had on the game was phenomenal,” Holmgren said. “We are all still looking for 6-5, 245-pound guys who can skate and play a skilled and physical game like Eric could. 

“This is great news for the Flyers organization and great news for Eric Lindros and his family. I’m very happy for him.”

Hextall admitted he still wonders what would have been if Lindros stayed healthy to close his career.

“He probably was in [the Hall of Fame] a couple years ago, right, if he didn’t have the injuries,” Hextall said. “Injuries happen but I can say this, when Eric played with us, he was clearly one of the most dominant players in the league at the time and probably one of the most dominant ever.”

And it all came full circle.

Lindros got his day.