The Flyers (7-3-2) will face off against the Washington Capitals (6-2-3) at Capital One Arena on Sunday afternoon in the first of a two game set in Washington D.C. The game will be televised nationally on NBC, and puck drop is set for 12 p.m.
Storyline to Watch
Flyers shifting power in the division
The Flyers, despite giving away an opportunity to take hold of first place, have begun to solidify their position as a top competitor in the loaded East Division, made up mostly of the typical Metropolitan Division opponents. The Washington Capitals have finished atop the Metro in six consecutive regular seasons. That span includes a playoff victory over the Flyers in the first round in 2016 and a Stanley Cup in 2018.
The Flyers defeated the Capitals in the final three regular season meetings last year and stole the top seed in the Eastern Conference with another win over Washington in the Toronto bubble thanks to the non-traditional round robin format.
Philadelphia began its post-New Year’s turnaround with a 3-2 victory over the Capitals on January 8th at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers followed it up with a 7-2 drubbing on February 8th and extended a late season winning streak to 7 games with another victory in Washington on March 4th, just a week before the NHL pause.
Where They Stand
The Flyers come into Sunday’s game having suffered back to back demoralizing losses at the hands of the Boston Bruins. The Flyers surrendered third period leads in both games, assuring that they will enter the outdoor game against Boston at Lake Tahoe on February 21st with 4 losses to the Bruins.
The Flyers are expected to start Carter Hart in net, which comes as relieving news for Flyers fans after Hart did not dress for Friday’s game due to back spasms. Both Philippe Myers and Sean Couturier are uncertain for Sunday, but it looks like Philadelphia is finally nearing the end of their stretch without their top center.
The Capitals currently sit in 3rd place in the East Division with 15 points behind Boston and Philadelphia. They survived reprimands for breaking the NHL’s COVID protocols and began the season 6-0-3, but have suffered their first two regulation losses in consecutive games coming into Sunday’s contest. They have been carried by an eye-popping 37.1% conversion rate on the power play.
Players to Watch
Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk comes into Sunday’s national spotlight game with 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in his last 6 games. The red hot JVR is doing a lot of damage on the power play by combining his usual imposing net-front presence with creative play-making ability.
Expect problems for the Flyers from Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin, who scored his 709th career goal on Thursday night to pass Mike Gartner for 7th on the all-time list. He is especially dangerous on the power play, and the penalty kill will need a better effort than they gave against Boston if they want to contain Ovechkin.
Washington winger Tom Wilson, arguably the most feared fighter in the NHL, is the type of guy Flyers fans just love to hate. He fought twice in the final regular-season matchup between these two teams last season. Wilson is known for his physical play and a long list of controversial incidents, but he is also a scoring threat on the first line with Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom and plays on both special teams units.
The Flyers currently sit as a narrow underdog with odds at -106 on the Moneyline (odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook). Get your bets in early to give you some flexibility for the Super Bowl!
Remember to check out the Broad Street Buzz Twitter feed (@BroadStreetBuzz) during the game for live updates and Flyers chatter.