Flyers-Ducks: 5 things you need to know

ducks-flyers-matchup2014.jpg

Flyers-Ducks: 5 things you need to know

Flyers vs. Ducks
7 p.m., CSN

The Flyers (0-2-1) will try for their first win of the season when they host the Anaheim Ducks (2-1-0) at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday evening.

The schedule is only going to get more difficult for the Flyers. After concluding their three-game homestand against the Ducks, the orange and black embark on a three-game road trip to Dallas, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Here are five things to get you ready for Flyers-Ducks:

1. Bad luck for Lecavalier
Vinny Lecavalier was right where he needed to be during the Flyers’ first power play attempt in Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. The veteran forward put himself in a good position to redirect a shot while screening Canadiens netminder Carey Price.

Unfortunately for Lecavalier, Mark Streit’s rocket from the point struck him in the left foot and will cost him some playing time. The Flyers announced Monday that Lecavalier will miss two weeks with what the team is calling a lower-body injury.

Lecavalier has suffered a handful of injuries since joining the Flyers. Last season, he missed three games in October with a lower-body injury, one game in November because of a facial injury and nine games in December with an ailing back. The 34-year-old was off to a strong start this season, posting a goal and two assists in the Flyers' first three games.

2. Movin' on up
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has done a superb job centering the Flyers’ fourth line. He’s a responsible two-way player and has proven to be one of the hardest working skaters on the ice night in and night out.

With Lecavalier sidelined, Bellemare now has an opportunity to play with more offensively-minded wingers in Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. The 29-year-old Frenchman instantly brings a new dynamic to the line. He’s much faster than Lecavalier and is a ferocious forechecker, which could lead to more scoring chances for his new linemates.

It was an interesting decision for Flyers coach Craig Berube to leave Schenn on the wing. Berube wants Schenn, who has jockeyed back and forth between center and wing the past few seasons, to adjust to life as a winger. Bellemare also appears to be a better option in the faceoff circle as he’s won over 61 percent of his draws this season.

Don’t be surprised if Bellemare picks up his first point as a Flyer against the Ducks. He could benefit from playing with the red-hot Simmonds, who has been playing some inspired hockey early on. The pair could also spark Schenn, who has picked up just one assist so far this season.

Blair Jones will make his regular season debut, barring a call-up. He turned heads during training camp, registering four assists and a plus-3 rating in four preseason games, but has been a healthy scratch the past three games. He’ll likely center Zac Rinaldo and Jason Akeson.

3. Quack attack
The Ducks boast a potent offense. They’ve collected 12 goals in three games and don’t show any signs of slowing down.

Anaheim relies heavily on superstars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The dynamic duo combined for 74 goals and 95 assists last season alone. To take some of the attention off their top line, the Ducks went out and acquired former Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler this past summer.

The move has paid off already. Kesler has collected two goals and three assists in his first three games in a Ducks uniform. To nobody’s surprise, Getzlaf and Perry also have five points apiece this season.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: How about the entire defense? It could be a long night for the defensive corps if they hang back and allow Anaheim to set up shop. The Flyers simply cannot afford to give the Ducks time and space with the puck. If they do, they’ll get embarrassed. The Flyers have been without Braydon Coburn, who is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury, and Nicklas Grossmann’s (stomach flu) status is questionable. Shutting down the Ducks will be no easy task. But if the Flyers can survive the night, it could serve as a major confidence booster for their suspect blueline.

Ducks: Since we already covered Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler, let’s go with rookie netminder John Gibson. Frederik Andersen has started the past two games for Anaheim, including Monday afternoon’s 5-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres, so expect Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau to give Gibson the nod vs. the Flyers. Gibson has an impressive frame and developed a strong mental toughness at a young age. The 21-year-old should also be eager to get back between the pipes. He allowed six goals on 39 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Anaheim’s season opener.

5. This and that
• The Flyers dropped both meetings against the Ducks in 2013-14. Matt Read had two goals and an assist in the season series.

• Anaheim outshot the Sabres 44-12 in Monday’s dominant victory in Buffalo. Rookie William Karlsson scored twice.

• Steve Mason is 0-3-0 with a 4.93 goals against average in his last four starts against the Ducks.

• The Ducks, who will conclude a four-game road trip, have won five of their past six games against the Flyers.

• The Flyers haven’t dropped their first four games since the 2008-09 season.

Flyers-Capitals 5 things: Washington on ridiculous roll into Wells Fargo Center

Flyers-Capitals 5 things: Washington on ridiculous roll into Wells Fargo Center

Flyers (28-24-7) vs. Capitals (39-12-7)
8 p.m. on NBCSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

After finding some offense to finish up a 1-2-0 road trip, the Flyers return home for a not-so-glorious welcome when they host the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

We’ll get into that and more with five things to know:

1. Capping things off
What’s the Flyers’ reward for salvaging the final game of a road swing through Canada? A date with the Capitals, who are the NHL’s hottest team since New Year’s Eve, and by a landslide.

Just how dominant has Washington been?

Dating back to Dec. 31, the Capitals are 19-3-2 and have scored an incomprehensible 104 goals in those 24 games. That’s 4.33 goals per game, while yielding only 50 markers over that stretch.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have scored an NHL-low 40 goals since New Year’s Eve and allowed 62 for an Eastern Conference-worst goal differential of minus-22.

Washington, coming off its first back-to-back defeats since Dec. 27-29, has lost three straight games only once this season.

2. A Ghost sighting
On Sunday, for the first time in close to four months, we saw the Shayne Gostisbehere from the Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) runner-up season last year.

The sophomore blueliner delivered his first three-point game of his career to ignite the Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Canucks.

Although Gostisbehere has made it clear he’s focused on his defensive game, the Flyers are a different animal when he’s generating offensive chances at 5-on-5 and the power play.

“He had his confidence and a little bit of swagger,” Wayne Simmonds said of Gostisbehere’s performance Sunday.

“Ghost has had his ups and downs this year, but he's a heck of a player and has unbelievable skill. He can be a catalyst offensively for us, that’s for sure.”

3. Good cage match
This one makes for an intriguing goalie matchup between Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, who were once battling for the net in Washington.

Holtby is having another stud season after winning the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy (top goalie). Among all netminders, he is tied for first in goals-against average (2.01) and shutouts (seven), while he hasn’t been beaten in regulation since Dec. 27.

The 27-year-old blanked the Flyers twice in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and stopped 149 of 154 shots over the first-round series that the Capitals won in six games.

Neuvirth hasn’t been too shabby himself, starting eight of the Flyers’ last 10 games. Aside from a bad showing in a 6-3 loss to the Oilers, Neuvirth has not surrendered more than two goals in any other outing during that span.

A 2006 second-round pick of Washington, Neuvirth was brilliant last postseason against his former club, making 103 saves on 105 shots faced to get the Flyers two victories.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare can be crucial in these types of games. The fourth-line forward often sees work against the opposition’s top offensive threats and is the Flyers’ most important piece to the penalty kill. Bellemare has played 16-plus minutes in both meetings with the Capitals this season, while the PK is 15 for 17 in February and tied for the NHL’s third-fewest goals against this month.

Capitals: T.J. Oshie is such an underrated asset for Washington. The right winger, who played his college hockey at North Dakota under Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, leads the NHL with a 22.8 shooting percentage, a big reason why the Capitals are scoring 3.34 goals per game, good for second most in hockey. Oshie has 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in his past 22 games and is a plus-24 on the season.

5. This and that
• Neuvirth has just two career regular-season matchups against the Capitals, going 1-0-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

• Holtby is 6-4-7 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 18 lifetime matchups with the Flyers.

• The Flyers are three points out of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, trailing the Panthers, Bruins and Islanders, all of whom have 66 points.

• Simmonds has four goals in his last five games.

• Claude Giroux has two points (one goal, one assist) in his previous 10 games.

• Washington ranks first in the NHL with a plus-69 goal differential.

• Jordan Weal (upper-body injury) is expected to miss his second straight game.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).