There have been ups and downs for the Washington Capitals so far this season, but finally, we are starting to see the squad that we’ve come to know so well. The Capitals are on an eight-game winning streak and are getting the best performance possible out of their top players. Not to mention, everyone seems to be in sync, and the team comes out with full momentum each game.
In a Sunday matinee, the Capitals will have the chance to retake their first-place spot atop the Metropolitan Division and the NHL.
They will square off against the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, who have not only lost three of their last four games but are in the throes of a back-to-back weekend, in which they fell to the Boston Bruins Saturday in a disappointing 6-3 defeat. Philadelphia needs a victory to keep a hold on their second-place wild-card spot in the close Atlantic Division standings.
Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center- 1:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CSNMA, CSNP, NBC
2016-17 Season Series:
Dec. 21- Capitals 2 Flyers 3 (SO)
Washington Capitals – 28-9-5, 61 Points
Home Record: 17-5-1
Hot Players: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Nate Schmidt
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
Philadelphia Flyers – 22-17-6, 50 Points
Away Record: 8-11-3
Hot Players: Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov
Key Injuries: Mark Streit
Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Nick Cousins-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Dale Weise-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Roman Lyubimov
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are on a roll, and are showing intense chemistry on the first line for Washington. The top-line trio has combined for 24 points over their last five games, which is truly outstanding and probably makes them the most lethal combination in the league. Nicklas Backstrom is the biggest contributor, and is riding a five-game point streak in which he has three goals and 10 points.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Perhaps the biggest contributor for the Flyers of late is Brayden Schenn. The third line center is not only riding a five-game point streak but has nine points in his last 10 games. Considering his role on the bottom-six, as well as the Flyers recent offensive woes, his contributions are proving to be more valuable to the Flyers each game.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Nate Schmidt is proving his worth to the Capitals organization, and is becoming a huge part of their defensive corps. He has five assists in his last five games, and is a plus-7 over that span. If he keeps up this hot streak, he will likely get a jersey over Taylor Chorney as often as he can.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]With former Capital Michal Neuvirth between the pipes in Saturday’s loss, a struggling Steve Mason will start for the Flyers Sunday. His last win came in the Flyers 3-2 shootout victory over Washington on Dec. 21; since then, he has gone 0-5-3. Braden Holtby will start for Washington, and with his third shutout in his last five games Friday, he appears to be returning to Vezina form.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.