The Washington Capitals take to the road in Week 19 with games against the Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers, two of the more difficult places for opponents to play.
Nashville Predators (Tuesday/8:00 (Eastern) — Bridgestone Arena)
On January 11th, the Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche in overtime, 5-4, to push their record to 24-11-2, tying them with the Carolina Hurricanes for third-most standings points in the league (50). They had the league’s fourth-best power play (27.0 percent) and its seventh-best penalty kill (82.5 percent). While their scoring offense was respectable (3.14 goals per game/12th in the league), their scoring defense was very good (2.65 goals allowed per game/eighth in the league).
Since then, though, it has been a struggle for the Preds. In 11 games since January 12th, the Predators are 4-5-2, their 10 standings points tied for 26th in the league, while their .455 points percentage ranks 25th. While their scoring offense slipped over that span, to 2.91 goals per game (tied for 16th in the league) over that span, their scoring defense might be more of a concern (3.09 goals allowed per game/17th).
Special teams have slipped over that span as well, the power play converting 17.1 percent of their opportunities over those 11 games (27th) and their penalty kill running at 75.6 percent (21st) over the same span.
Nashville has not been a particularly fearsome team on home ice, either this season or in historical context. Their 14-8-0 record at Bridgestone Arena is tied for 16th in points earned (28, with Los Angeles), and their .636 points percentage ranks 12th in the league. That points percentage ranks 11th in 23 seasons of home ice play for the Predators. And although their overall home ice scoring defense has been good (2.41 goals allowed per game/tied for sixth-best in the league), it has faltered of late, allowing 21 goals in their last seven games on home ice (3.00 per game).
The Capitals are 14-15-2 (one tie) in their all-time series against the Predators, 5-9-1 (one tie) in Nashville. Washington is 2-7-1 in their last ten meetings with the Preds overall.
Philadelphia Flyers (Thursday/7:00pm – Wells Fargo Center)
It has been a rough year for the Flyers and their fans. It is not an overstatement to say that this year’s Flyers club is an historically poor club. In its 54th season of hockey, this year’s club ranks 51st in points percentage (15-24-8/.404). They rank 52nd in scoring offense (2.51 goals per game), 43rd in scoring defense (3.36 goals allowed per game). In 44 seasons in which special teams data are available, this year’s club ranks 40th on the power play (14.8 percent) and 40th on the penalty kill (77.0 percent). They are tied for 42nd in winning percentage when scoring first in games (12-3-5/.600), 52nd in winning percentage when trailing in games (3-21-3/.111).
What is worse, at least this season, is the Flyers home record. This is the second-worst team in Flyer history in points percentage on home ice (8-11-4/.435), and only once this season have they won consecutive games in regulation at Wells Fargo Arena. That was back in October, when they beat Seattle, 6-1, and followed that up with a 6-3 win over Boston. They are 4-9-3 at home since opening their home schedule with a 4-2-1 record.
It is not as if the Flyers have had one sore spot to account for their troubles overall. They have been bad on both sides of the puck and on special teams – a bottom third team in scoring offense (2.51 goals per game/27th), scoring defense (3.36 goals allowed per game/25th), power play (14.8 percent/30th), and penalty kill (77.0 percent/23rd).
Philadelphia’s offensive woes have been persistent. They have not scored more than three goals in regulation in any game since December 14th, when they beat New Jersey, 6-1. That is 20 games in a row going into the new week. On the other side, they allowed more the three goals in regulation eight times in their last 16 games. Six times in those 16 games they lost by three or more goals.
The Caps are 93-109-11 (19 ties) in their all-time series against the Flyers, 42-63-7 (six ties) in Philadelphia. They are 6-4-0 against the Flyers in their last ten meetings.
- Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin is averaging more than a point per game on the road this season (24 points in 22 games/1.09 per game).
- Joe Snively. The rookie has five points in seven games overall (2-3-5, plus-5).
- Dmitry Orlov. The defenseman leads the team in game-winning goals on the road (four) and is tied for third in the league among all skaters (tied for first among defensemen).
- Justin Schultz. Schultz has yet to record a goal on the road this season (20 games).
- Carl Hagelin. Hagelin is 1-for-31 shooting (3.2 percent) in 22 road games this season.
- Lars Eller. Eller has averaged 2.62 giveaways per 60 minutes in road games this season, most among Caps playing in at least five games.
- Nashville is the only team in the league to have played the Capitals more than once in their all-time series that has never shut out the Caps (32 games).
- Philadelphia has a decent record in one-goal games; they have only four one-goal losses in regulation, tied for 12th fewest in the league, but only Montreal has more losses by three or more goals (23) than the Flyers (16, tied with Arizona).
- The next time the Capitals are shutout will be the 200th time in team history they were blanked.
Potential Milestones to Reach This Week (or soon):
- Needs one shorthanded goal to tie Gaetan Duchesne, Bobby Gould, Steve Konowlachuk, and Tom Wilson (six apiece) for 12th place in team history.
- Needs one even strength goal to break a tie with Marcel Dionne for fourth-place all time (both with 478 ES goals).
- Needs two game-winning goals to tie Gordie Howe (121) for second place all-time.
- With one game-deciding goal in a shootout, Ovechkin will tie Kris Letang for tenth place all-time (currently 14).
- With one empty net point, Ovechkin will break a tie with Joe Thornton for sixth place all-time (both with 58 empty net points).
- With one first goal in games, Ovechkin will tie Brett Hull (131) for second place all time behind Jaromir Jagr (135).
- Ovechkin needs three multi-goal games to tie Brett Hull for second place all-time (Hull with 158).
- With one multi-point game, Ovechkin will tie Joe Thornton for 20th place in all-time multi-point games (Thornton with 391).
- Ovechkin’s next hat trick will be the 29th of his career, breaking a tie with Brett Hull and Marcel Dionne for sixth place all-time.
- Backstrom needs six points to reach 1,000 for his career.
- With one penalty minute, he would tie Kevin Kaminski (483) for 26th place in franchise history; with five, he would tie Paul Mulvey (487) for 24th place.
- With one first goal of a game, Backstrom would break a tie with Mike Gartner (46 apiece) for third place in franchise history.
- With two empty net goals, he would tie Mike Ridley (16) for second place in team history.
- With two empty net points, Backstrom would reach the 50 empty net point mark in his career.
- Needs one power play goal to tie Dainius Zubrus (35) for 24th place on the all-time Caps list.
- Needs one game-winning goal to tie Michal Pivonka and Evgeny Kuznetsov (27) for tenth place all-time for Washington; two game-winning goals and he will tie Alexander Semin for (28) ninth place; three and he will tie Dale Hunter and Kelly Miller (29) for seventh place.
- With one even strength goal, Carlson would tie Sergei Gonchar for second place among defensemen in Caps history (Gonchar with 90 ESG).
- With one overtime goal, Carlson tie Dmitry Orlov for second place among defensemen on the all-time franchise list (he has two).
- Orlov’s needs one game-winning goal to break a tie with Scott Stevens and Sylvain Cote for sixth place on the all-time franchise list among defensemen (all with 14).
- Needs one game-winning goal to pass Michal Pivonka (both with 27) for tenth place on the Caps’ all-time list and tie Alexander Semin for ninth place (28).
- Needs one overtime goal to tie Mike Green for third place on the all-time Caps’ list (currently seven).
- Needs one empty net goal to break a tie with Peter Bondra for fifth on the all-time franchise list (Bondra with 11).
- Needs one empty net goal to tie Tom Wilson and Peter Bondra for fifth on the all-time franchise list (Wilson and Bondra with 11).
- Needs five penalty minutes for 100 in his career.