Flyers at Capitals Picks
By Jonathan Willis
The Washington Capitals are looking to extend their lead in the Metropolitan Division when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers in one of NBC’s mid-week games. Washington is used to being atop the Metropolitan, so that’s not big news, but are well behind both Tampa Bay and Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Caps finished atop the Eastern Conference the past two seasons and would like to make it three in a row.
Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Date and Time: Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
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Flyers at Capitals TV Coverage: NBCSN
Philly is hoping that the All-Star Break didn’t kill the team’s momentum. The Flyers had been a team on fire before the break, winning eight of their last 10 games. That vaulted them right into the thick of things in the crowded Metropolitan.
The Flyers have been one of the league’s better road teams this season. Philly has gotten at least a point in 15 of their 23 road games and is 17-6 against the puck line.
Washington welcomed the All-Star Break, as the Capitals had gone on a bit of a skid leading into the long weekend. The Capitals had lost three straight home games, a rarity for them, and will be looking to reestablish their dominance at home. They were 17-5 at home prior to those three losses.
Injuries to Watch
The Flyers are expected to be pretty healthy coming into this game. Brian Elliott was scratched from their last game prior to the All-Star break because of a lower-body injury, but he might be able to play against the Caps in this one. If he can’t go, Michal Neuvirth will be minding the net.
Washington is one of the few teams with no players on the injury report. That’s good news heading into the last third of the season.
Player to Watch
Over the past 13 seasons, Alex Ovechkin has been the face of the Washington Capitals. He has been the lynchpin of the team through thick and thin, and it will be he who the Caps lean on during their stretch run.
Ovechkin just recently hit a couple of milestones that highlight just how great he has been. Right before the All-Star break, he notched his 500th career assist and tallied his 13th straight 30-goal season in a win over Florida.
There is no denying that he is a shoot-first player, but when you are as talented as Ovie, it’s hard not to be. He has led the NHL in shots in 10 of his 12 complete seasons and has been the league’s leader in goals for six seasons. Ovechkin is currently leading the NHL in both shots and goals, and he is looking to crack the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his career.
Neither Elliott or Neuvirth is a great, or even good, goaltender. That puts the pressure on the defense to be solid and not allow a lot of scoring opportunities, and the Flyers have done just that. Philadelphia is fifth in the NHL in shots allowed, giving up 30.2 shots per game.
The Flyers have two young defensemen that are already playing at an elite level. Ivan Provorov isn’t old enough to legally drink in this country, but he has helped shut down some of the best players in the game. He logs a ton of minutes and has been who Philly has leaned on the most.
Shayne Gostisbehere has been the other defenseman Philly has counted on. Gostisbehere is in his third season in the NHL and is known more for his offensive chops, but has come along as a defender too.
Flyers at Capitals Free Picks
Before the All-Star break, these teams met in our nation’s capital with Philadelphia coming on top 2-1. This time around, Washington will emerge victorious. The Capitals will find success against the Flyers other defensemen, and that will be the difference in this one.
Flyers at Capitals Pick: Back the hometown Capitals on the puck line
Flyers at Capitals Score Prediction: Capitals 3 – Flyers 1