Game Day - Capitals @ Flyers

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

When the Caps and Flyers met just over two weeks ago, D.C. watched a 2-1 third period lead turn into a 4-2 deficit in the span of 3:19, and saw the season series with Philly slip away with the resulting loss. And while a win tonight in the City of Brotherly Love won't change any of that, of course, it would be an enormous victory for a Caps team that has won just once in Philly in the last calendar year (Game 6 of last year's Eastern Conferance Quarterfinals) against a trio of losses in which they've been outscored 17-7.

The Flyers are cruising right now - 10-4-1 in their last fifteen games, top ten in the NHL in goals for and in both special teams units (including the League's best home power play). On an individual level, tonight's starting netminder, Martin Biron is 3-1-0/1.50/.956 in his last five appearances, Mike Richards has 24 points in his last 18 games, and the line of Joffrey Lupul, Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell combined for four goals and four assists in their last time out against Buffalo.

At almost the other end of the, um, spectrum are the Caps, who despite winning a nail-biter in Nashville on Tuesday are 1-3-1 in their last five, thanks in part to the fact that they've had exactly one goal in those five games - Brooks Laich's tally against the Pens - from anyone who isn't a forward on one of the two lines. Tomas Fleischmann doesn't have a point in his last five games, Eric Fehr is pointless in six. Mike Green doesn't have a goal in six games and has just one in his last dozen (too many minutes?), and so on, making the answer to this question is a resounding "more."

If there's reason for optimism tonight (other than the hard-fought win in Music City), it's that the Flyers have committed the most minor penalties in the Conference and the Caps have the best power play in the East (though they've gone just 2-for-16 in the season series with Philly). Bottom line: if the Caps can't get it done with the extra man tonight, you can probably forget about two points and start preparing for Carolina on Saturday. But if the team commits to going to the net and making life a little uncomfortable for Biron, we might just have a game.

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