Last week, the Flyers caught a break when the New York Rangers came to town minus injured all-world goaltender and Flyers-tormenter Henrik Lundqvist. Just over a week later, another division rival comes to Wells Fargo Center minus its superstar.
The Capitals will be without lethal sniper Alexander Ovechkin, the league’s second-leading goal-scorer and a notorious Flyers killer, due to an upper-body injury when the teams meet tonight in South Philadelphia for their first matchup as Metropolitan Division foes.
I’m going to guess that, unlike Lundqvist’s replacement, Ovechkin’s replacement doesn’t have awesome Ghostbusters-themed gear, though.
But I digress.
Ovechkin has toyed with the Orange and Black over the course his first eight seasons in the league. Including the teams’ 2008 playoff series, Ovie has lit up the Flyers to the tune of 28 goals and 20 assists in 36 career games against them.
Translation: He usually abuses the Flyers by scoring tons of goals against them.
But Ovechkin’s absence tonight means a little more than it usually would.
So far during this young season, he’s scored 10 of the Captials’ 34 goals. That’s quite literally just about a third of Washington’s offense that will be out of the lineup. The Capitals’ next leading goal-scorer is Mikhail Grabovski with five, but three of his goals were scored in Washington’s season opener exactly a month ago.
“The Great 8’s” absence is magnified even more when you look at Washington’s power-play numbers.
The Caps own the league’s fifth-ranked power play, which has scored six goals and his hitting at 24.4 percent success rate. But four of Washington’s six power-play goals have been scored by - you guessed it - Ovechkin.
Translation: Alexander Ovechkin has been an exceptionally good hockey player this season and his absence tonight could be a huge break for the Flyers.
But the fact of the matter is none of this really matters unless the Flyers actually, you know, score some goals.
Also of note, the newly-reacquired Steve Downie, who will wear jersey No. 9, will be in the lineup tonight for Philadelphia. Don’t be surprised if he plays on the top line alongside Claude Giroux and Vinny Lecavalier.