Flyers-Capitals: 5 things you need to know

flyers-capitals-matchup.jpg

Flyers-Capitals: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (32-24-6) will wrap up their home-and-home series with the Washington Capitals (29-23-10) on Wednesday night.

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center. The game will be televised on NBCSN.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. That’s all, folks
The Flyers and Capitals will clash for the fifth and final time this season on Wednesday. Washington won the first two contests before the Flyers reeled off back-to-back victories in the next two meetings.

Both clubs have 20 games remaining this season and are fighting for a playoff spot in the crowded Metropolitan Division. The Flyers currently hold the second-place position in the Metro with 70 points. The New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets are right behind them with 69 points apiece. The Capitals (68 points) and New Jersey Devils (67 points) are also within striking distance of the Flyers.

It’s at the point where every game the rest of the way will have Stanley Cup playoff implications. It’s important for the Flyers to make the most of their divisional games.

Sunday was a perfect example of that. The Flyers rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit and beat the Caps 5-4. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux each tallied three points in the win and Vinny Lecavalier potted the game-winning marker at the 2:45 mark of overtime.

Voracek (four goals, two assists) and Giroux (three goals, three assists) have led the way for the Flyers in the team’s four games against the Caps this season. On the other end of the ice, Joel Ward (three goals, three assists) and Nicklas Backstrom (two goals, four assists) have given the Flyers headaches in the series.

2. Wheeling and dealing
NHL teams can make trades up until 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon but the Flyers and Capitals got a jumpstart on the deadline, both striking deals on Tuesday.

The Flyers bolstered their blueline by acquiring defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders in exchange for two draft picks and prospect Matt Mangene (see story).

“He’s a great addition for our team,” said Mark Streit, who played parts of three seasons with MacDonald on Long Island. “He’s a good, all-around defenseman. He plays well defensively, blocks a lot of shots and has a good first pass. It’s a really good mix.”

The Flyers now have nine defensemen on the active roster. What’s the next move? Will there be a next move? Anything can happen on deadline day. Stay tuned.

Washington, on the other hand, is likely done making moves. They sent a fourth-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for veteran forward Dustin Penner and shipped Martin Erat and John Mitchell to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Chris Brown, Rostislav Klesla and a draft pick on Tuesday.

Klesla and Brown are expected to join Washington’s AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, but Penner will likely find himself on the Caps’ top line with Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

3. The Ovechkin factor
Speaking of Ovechkin, the Flyers did a fantastic job containing the Russian sniper in Sunday’s win at the Verizon Center.

Ovechkin, who is leading the NHL in goals with 43, finished the game with six shots in 20 minutes of ice time but did not register a point and was a minus-3 for the Caps.

It’s not often the Flyers can say they held Ovie off the scoresheet. The Caps’ captain has 26 goals and 16 assists in 32 career games against the orange and black.

Even scarier, Ovechkin always comes to play in Philadelphia. He has 16 markers and nine helpers in 18 career visits to Wells Fargo Center, including the playoffs.

The Flyers would be wise to stay out of the box. They gave the Capitals six power plays on Sunday and miraculously killed them all off. They won’t get away with giving Ovechkin and Washington’s prolific PP units that many opportunities again.

4. Injuries
Goalie Ray Emery (groin pull) isn’t ready to play just yet. Cal Heeter was recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms on Tuesday and will serve as Steve Mason’s backup.

For the Capitals, Jack Hillen (right tibia) and Mikhail Grabovski (left ankle) are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s tilt.

Aaron Volpatti is on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and won’t suit up.

5. This and that
• Giroux has seven goals and eight assists in his last 10 games.

• Dmitry Orlov, who was assessed a five-minute major for boarding Brayden Schenn on Sunday, will begin his two-game suspension.

• MacDonald had four goals and 20 assists while averaging over 25 minutes a game for the Islanders this season.

• Penner had 13 goals and 19 assists for the Ducks this season. He played on their top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

• Even with a win, the Caps can’t pass the Flyers in the standings. The Flyers hold the tiebreaker by having eight more regulation/overtime wins.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.