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Snapshots of the Week Ahead: Week 14

Only two games against one opponent for Week 14, but it is a home-and-home with a long and bitter rival.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Week 14 is a light week on the Washington Capitals’ schedule – two games, one opponent. But given the long history the teams have against one another, a two-game week against the Philadelphia Flyers might be action-packed.

The Opponents

Philadelphia Flyers (Wednesday/7:00 pm at Wells Fargo Center and Saturday/7:00 pm at Capital One Arena)

The Caps play their second home-and-home set of games of the season and their first against a Metropolitan Division foe this season (the Caps split a home-and-home with Tampa Bay in November). The two-game set will conclude the season series between the teams, the Caps winning the first two contests – 3-2 in overtime on November 23rd in Washington and 4-1 on December 7th in Philadelphia).

The Flyers head into the new week as one of the hotter clubs in the league at the moment, winners of four of their last five contests (they had a four-game winning streak snapped by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night). What they found, at least for the moment, is consistency on both sides of the puck. In that four-game winning streak The Flyers scored four goals in each of the first three games before posting six in a 6-2 win over Arizona on Thursday. Only in the first game of the streak did the Flyers allow as many as three goals and have allowed a combined five goals over their last three games.

This year’s Flyers team is an improvement from last year’s, but the 2021-2022 squad was historic in its futility. The .372 points percentage with which last year’s club finished was second-worst in team history, and while the .463 points percentage this year’s club carries into the new week is an improvement, it is modest, still the seventh-worst in 55 seasons of Flyers hockey. This years’ 2.75 goals per game scoring offense is an improvement over last year’s third-worst in team history 2.56 goals scored per game, but it still ranks tied for 12th worst in franchise history. This year’s 3.30 goals allowed per game might be an improvement over last season’s eighth-worst in team history 3.59 goals allowed per game, but it is still 14th-worst in franchise history. The improvements, such as they are, have been modest.

The home-and-home set will open in Philadelphia, where the Flyers have been showing a bit too much “brotherly love” this season. They go into the new week with an 8-10-1 record at Wells Fargo Center, tied for 25th in the league in points earned at home (17) and is tied for 27th in points percentage (.447). Unsurprisingly, Flyer scoring – for and against – is similarly stuck in the 20’s in the league rankings, tied for 26th in scoring offense (2.79 goals per game) and 24th in scoring defense (3.42 goals allowed per game). The Flyer special teams have been hot and cold, the power play an icy 17.2 percent on home ice (27th), while the penalty kill, at 79.6 percent, ranks 13th.

On the road, the Flyers have been hardly better. Their 7-8-6 record is tied for 20th in points earned (20), while their .476 points percentage ranks 24th in the league. The road record is a bit more complicated, though. While scoring has here, too, been an issue (2.71 goals per game/27th in scoring offense), Philadelphia’ road scoring defense has not been that bad (3.19 goals against per game/T-14th). Their special teams, though, have been poor on both sides of the puck – a 15.0 percent power play (31st) and a 72.1 percent penalty kill (26th). They are just 3-for-32 in their last 12 road games (9.4 percent), and only Columbus has fewer power play goals in road games (five) than the Flyers (nine).

These will be the 238th and 239th meetings of the Capitals and Flyers in series history. Washington has an overall record of 97-110-11 (19 ties), 53-46-4 (13 ties) at home and 44-64-7 (six ties) on the road.

Hot Caps:

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov. Yes, Alex Ovechkin has been hot and received a lot attention for it since December 1st. But Evgeny Kuznetsov has been almost as hot, especially as a playmaker, without nearly as much attention over the same span. Since December 1st, Kuznetsov is 3-17-20, plus-3, in 19 games, leads the team in power play points (2-7-9). His 17 total assists over that stretch rank sixth in the league.
  • Nic Dowd. Since December 1st, no Capital has recorded more points per 60 minutes of ice time than Nic Dowd (3.40). He also holds a wide margin in goals per 60 minutes (2.38, compared to Ovechkin’s 1.53). He is shooting 33.3 percent over that span.
  • Erik Gustafsson. Since December 1st, Erik Gustafsson leads in goals among defensemen (seven), tied for fifth in points (16), second in even strength points (14), first in plus-minus rating (plus-19), is tied for third in shooting percentage (16.7 percent; minimum: 10 shots on goal), and is third in points per 60 minutes (2.44; minimum: 10 games played).

Cold Caps:

  • T.J. Oshie. T.J. Oshie does not have an assist since November 25th in a 3-0 win over Calgary, a span of 15 games.
  • Aliaksei Protas. Although he has done a lot of things right to earn himself a sweater for 41 of 42 games this season, Aliaksei Protas is now 25 games without a goal. He is 0-for-29 shooting over that span.
  • Nick Jensen. The Capitals defenseman has a scoring drought of his own. While less scoring is expected of Jensen, he is still 36 games without a goal, 0-for-44 shooting over that span.

Weird Facts:

  • Going into the new week, Philadelphia has won three straight road games, their longest win streak on the road this season and their longest since they won three in a row from January 26th through February 2, 2021.
  • No team has lost more extra time games on the road than the Flyers (six, tied with Carolina). Overall, seven of their 21 road games have gone to extra time with a 1-6 record. Five of the losses came in overtime, once in a shootout.
  • Scoring first and doing something with it have been foreign concepts to the Flyers this season. They scored first in 12 of 39 games going into Week 14; only Chicago scored first fewer times (10 times in 38 games). And, they have but four wins to show for it, fewest wins when scoring first in the league.

Potential Milestones to Reach This Week (or soon):

John Carlson

  • 300 career penalty minutes (he currently has 296)
  • First among defensemen in franchise history in power play points (228 (Calle Johansson); he has 224)
  • Most ten-goal seasons by a defenseman in team history: eight (currently seven, tied with Sergei Gonchar and Kevin Hatcher; Carlson has eight goals)
  • 19th place in franchise history in goals scored (currently with 140, tied with Dmitri Khristich)
  • 100 career even strength goals (he has 99)

Nic Dowd

  • 200 career penalty minutes (196)

Matt Irwin

  • 200 career penalty minutes (195)

Marcus Johansson

  • 25th place in franchise history in goals scored (currently with 115, tied with Tom Wilson)
  • 25th place in team history in power play points (currently with 96, tied with Dmitri Khristich (96) for 25th place)
  • 11th place in game winning goals in team history (currently 13th with 26; needs one to tie Carlson and Michal Pivonka)

Evgeny Kuznetsov

  • Second place in overtime goals in team history (currently with seven, he needs three to pass Mike Green (eight) and Nicklas Backstrom (nine) to take second place.
  • Seventh place in team history in game-winning goals (currently 29, tied with Kelly Miller and Dale Hunter)
  • Sixth place in team history in assists (currently 373, two behind sixth-place Dale Hunter)

T.J. Oshie

  • 29th place in assists in team history (currently in 31st place with 170, needs four to pass Joe Juneau and Craig Laughlin)
  • 14th place in game winning goals in team history (currently tied for 16th with 23; needs two to pass Brooks Laich and Kevin Hatcher (24 apiece) for 13th place)

Dmitry Orlov

  • 5th place in game-winning goals among defensemen in team history (currently with 15, one behind Calle Johansson)

Alex Ovechkin

  • 21st all-time in power play points (545; needs three to pass Larry Murphy and tie Joe Thornton for 20th place)
  • 20th place in three-or-more point games (currently 22nd with 129; needs one to tie Brett Hull and Adam Oates)
  • 5th place in all-time career hat tricks (currently sixth with 30, needs two to tie Phil Esposito)

Dylan Strome

  • 100 career penalty minutes (98)

Trevor van Riemsdyk

  • 500 career NHL games (499)
  • 100 career NHL points (99)

Tom Wilson

  • 24th place in franchise history in goals scored (currently 115, needs three to tie Guy Charron)
  • 31st place in franchise history in points (currently 273, one short of Charron)
  • 21st place in team history in game-winning goals (currently 18, needs two to tie Mike Green and Dmitri Khristich for 21st place)