Weekly Flyers Preview: Dec. 16-22

The Flyers have a chance to make up points in the division, with the second half of a back-to-back, as well as another against division foes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 vs. Washington Capitals (18-12-3, 39 points, 2ndMetropolitan)

Washington has won six of eight to move into second place in the Metropolitan Division, including defeating the Flyers in a shootout, 5-4 on Sunday. In that game, the Flyers blew a three-goal, third period lead.

Alex Ovechkin scored the tying goal with 48 seconds to go Sunday, giving him 28 on the year, which leads the league. Mike Green (2 goals), Dmitry Orlov (1 goal) and Marcus Johansson (4 goals) each all scored in the game as well.

Fortunately for the Flyers, this game is at Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers are 8-7.  Washington carries a 6-5-3 road record into this matchup. However, the Capitals have not lost a regulation game on the road since a 4-1 loss in Colorado on November 10 (3-0-2). Four of those games have required extra time, with three going to a shootout.

Washington’s seventh ranked offense is just as potent on the road, averaging 2.93 goals away from Verizon Center.  They’ve allowed fewer goals on the road as well, giving up 2.64 in road contests.

Phillip Grubauer was in net for Washington on Sunday but Braden Holtby may be between the pipes for Tuesday’s matchup. Holtby has 13-9-1 this season with a 2.82 goals against average and has saved 92% of shots faced. He hasn’t played since allowing three goals in eleven minutes in a 6-5 win over Tampa on December 10.

With a power play goal Sunday, the Capitals are now scoring on 24.4% of their power plays, which is second in the league. Ovechkin has eleven goals on the man advantage to lead Washington.

Washington killed all four Flyer power plays in that game, moving them up to 13th in penalty killing (83.5%). They have killed eight penalties in a row.

Thursday, December 19, 2013 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (14-16-4, 32 points, 7thMetropolitan)

Saturday, December 21, 2013 @ Columbus Blue Jackets

The Flyers square off against the Blue Jackets in the first meetings as division rivals.

Coming off two straight losses, the Blue Jackets have been a middling Metropolitan team, bouncing around the standings depending on the night.  They’re a bit better at home (8-8-2) than the road (6-8-2) but haven’t been able to put together a win streak to move into the top three spots. Their longest winning streak has been three games, which came in late October. 

Columbus is in the middle of the pack in scoring (2.53 goals per game, 19th) led by Ryan Johansen’s twelve (and 27 points). Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson and Artem Anisimov all have nine each. They may get additional help in the form of Marian Gaborik (5 goals in 17 games), as he could return this week from a knee injury.

Defenseman James Wisniewski (upper body injury) also may return to Columbus’ lineup after missing the last five games. Wisniewski leads the Jackets blueline with 18 points.

The Jackets are hurting in net, as Sergei Bobrovsky (strained groin) and Curtis McElhinney (lower body injury) and Mike McKenna (0-1-1, 3.02 GAA, .901%) has started the last two games. However, McElhinney (4-4-1, 2.26 GAA, .926%) may be back in time for the games against the Flyers.  They are 19th in goals against average overall (2.76), but that number balloons to 2.94 away from Nationwide Arena.

Columbus has the 10th best power play in the league, powered by Johansen’s four. Scoring has been spread out as eleven different Jackets have a power play goal this season.

On the flip side, their penalty killing ranks 20th, at 81.1%, and has the third-worst killing on the road at 75.5%. 

Weekly Expectations: 3 points

Since Nov. 18 Dan has been predicting Flyers points.

Realdeal: 19

Flyers: 16