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Round-Robin Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

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Breaking down the matchup between the Caps and their second round-robin opponent

Philadelphia Flyers v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

On Monday the Caps took a slow start and turned it into a comeback (where have we seen that movie before), but eventually fell in the shootout to the Lightning. That one point puts them firmly in third place in the round-robin standings, with Tampa leading the way at a perfect 2-0-0 and the Bruins failing to get a point through their first two games.

So today’s game is... well, more important than a regular-season game and slightly less important than a real playoff game. Still, a good showing would be welcome.

Let’s break it down.

Season Series: Caps 1-3-0

Playoff History

  • 1984 Patrick Division Semifinals: Capitals win, 3-0
  • 1988 Patrick Division Semifinals: Capitals win, 4-3
  • 1989 Patrick Division Semifinals: Flyers win, 4-2
  • 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Flyers win, 4-3
  • 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Capitals win, 4-2

Three Philadelphia Players to Watch

  • Claude Giroux: Since his NHL debut back in 2007-08, no Flyer has done more damage to the Caps than Giroux, with 45 points in 45 career games (and five points in their four meetings this year).
  • Brian Elliott: Peter Laviolette has decided to stick with the goalie who put up some pretty stellar numbers (2.00 GAA, .926 sv%) in the two wins vs. Washington this year... but in his career, Elliott has a record of 10-7-0 against them, with a sub-.900 save percentage. Which one shows up?
  • Kevin Hayes: Hayes has proven to be something of a shot in the arm for the Flyers since signing that (too) hefty seven-year deal last summer, and has victimized the Caps quite a bit since donning the orange and black as well.

Key Injuries

Michael Raffl - Raffl injured his left leg in Philly’s win over Boston on Sunday and is out indefinitely.

Special Teams

  • Flyers power play: 20.8% (14th)
  • Capitals penalty kill: 82.6% (6th)
  • Flyers penalty kill: 81.8% (11th)
  • Capitals power play: 19.4% (17th)

Bottom Line

It’s easy to get bogged down in the fact that the Flyers took the last three games against the Caps during the regular season (and pretty well embarrassed them in the last two). But that three-game win streak followed a stretch in which the Caps won six of seven against their division rivals.

What does that mean? Well... probably not much, although it’s likely that Vigneault’s Flyers bear a closer resemblance to the team that smacked the Caps around this year. And if that’s the case, the Caps need to forget about the recent past and focus on how they can beat the Flyers this one time. Both teams will be missing some key depth up front, with Hagg injured for the Flyers and Eller having left the bubble yesterday to attend the birth of his son.

How each one adjusts and balances the intensity of the round-robin with a focus on prepping for the first round will determine who comes out on top.

So... who you got?