The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
No rest for the wicked, or more precisely, the filthy, as in the freestyle goal scorers in the Washington Capitals’s 3-2 Gimmick win over the New Jersey Devils yesterday. T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin made sure the Caps had a happy Saturday, but now they return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Verizon Center.
The Caps dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Flyers on January 27th and will be looking for a measure of payback. The Flyers come into Washington having played a Gimmick game of their own yesterday, dropping a 3-2 decision to the New York Rangers in Philadelphia. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak that started with that win over the Caps 11 days ago.
In those four games, the Flyers outscored their opponents by a 16-10 margin, the 16-goal output being a bit unusual for a club ranked 25th in scoring offense (2.38 goals per game). The Flyers are led in goal scoring over those four games by Wayne Simmonds (four), but he was hit with a match penalty in yesterday’s game against the Rangers for intent to injure Ryan McDonagh. The match penalty means Simmonds is suspended until the Department of Player Safety issues a ruling on his actions on the ice.
That leaves Brayden Schenn as the top goal scorer over the last four games (three) who is likely to take the ice this afternoon. Schenn has become something of a reliable half-point a game player for the Flyers, having hit or topped that threshold in each of the last four seasons, including this one. He has been an even more productive player of late, going 4-3-7 over his last six games. Schenn is 2-5-7, minus-3, in 17 career games against the Caps.
Shayne Gostisbehere has more than twice as many points from the blue line than any other Flyer defenseman, and he has done it in just 32 games. He is also leading all rookie defensemen in goals (nine), assists (17), and points (26), despite playing in 20 fewer games (32) than the second-place rookie scorer among defensemen (St. Louis’ Colton Parayko: 6-13-19). He is 1-5-6 in the Flyers’ last four games to lead their defense in scoring, including a pair of assists in the 4-3 win over the Caps on January 27th in his only career appearance against Washington.
Michal Neuvirth won that overtime decision over the Caps 11 days ago, and since Steve Mason got the call in yesterday’s loss to the Rangers, he might have been called upon again for this game. However, he is out with a groin injury, and Anthony Stolarz was recalled from Lehigh Valley in the AHL to fill in. He has not yet appeared in an NHL game.
That might leave things up to Mason in the end. He stopped 26 of 28 shots in the shootout loss yesterday. He has been solid of late, going 4-2-2, 2.22, .932, with a shutout over his last eight appearances. He is 7-4-2, 2.83, .904, with two shutouts in 14 career appearances against the Capitals.
Here is how the teams compare overall…
1. The Flyers have allowed the second-highest number of shots per game in the league (32.4).
2. No team has taken fewer leads into the first intermission than the Flyers. They are 7-1-0 in those instances, but eight leads at the first intermission is far behind Toronto, with the second-fewest instances (12).
3. Not that the Flyers do all that well when they score first, either. Their .640 winning percentage in such games (16-6-3) ranks just 23rd in the league.
4. If the Caps’ power play is going to get well, it might come at Philadelphia’s expense. The Flyers rank 24th in road penalty killing efficiency (78.5 percent).
5. Philadelphia is not an especially good team on the road in terms of possession, but neither are they especially bad. Their 49.2 percent Corsi-for at 5-on-5 overall ranks 12th in the league (numbers from war-on-ice.com).
1. Winter Storm Jonas seems to have swept the “power” out of the Caps’ power play. Before the storm hit, the Caps had been on a 10-for-29 run over nine games (34.5 percent). Since the storm, and the postponed games against Anaheim and Pittsburgh, the Caps are 0-for-15 in four contests.
2. Penalty killing has not been a lot better lately. The Caps allowed a power play goal to the New Jersey Devils yesterday, making it six games in their last eight in which they allowed at least one power play goal. Their penalty kill over those eight games is 21-for-28 (75.0 percent). Their special teams index over their last four games (power play efficiency plus penalty kill efficiency) is 69.2.
3. The Caps come into this game as a top-ten team in goals scored in each of the three regulations periods, 43 in the first period (6th), 55 in the second period (55), and 62 in the third period (2nd).
4. The Caps remain the only team in the league to have allowed 40 or fewer goals in each of the three regulation periods (36 in the first, 33 in the second, and 40 in the third).
5. Your odd Corsi fact for the day… the Caps are 9-1-1 in the last 11 games in which they were below 50 percent in Corsi-for overall (numbers from war-on-ice.com). This is not likely a sustainable outcome.
The Peerless’ Players to Ponder
Philadelphia: Jakub Voracek
Jakub Voracek scored the game-winning overtime goal against the Caps on January 27th. Starting with that game, Voracek is 2-6-8 to lead the Flyers in overall points during that span. He has closed to within two points (8-34-42) of Claude Giroux (16-28-44) for the team lead in total scoring, and his 34 assists is tied for seventh in the league overall. He comes into this game on a six-game points streak (3-8-11) and is 7-20-27 in his last 21 games. He is 11-7-16, plus-7, in 23 career games against the Caps.
Washington: Andre Burakovsky
When Andre Burakovsky nudged a loose puck past New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider in yesterday’s win, it was his fifth consecutive game with a goal. Until this streak he had not had consecutive games with a goal in his young career. It is not just his goal scoring that make him one of the hottest players in the league. He has points in six straight games and in eight of his last nine contests (6-6-12), four multi-point games among them. That stretch included a ten-shots on goal effort in the Caps’ 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers five days ago, a career high in shots. He is 2-0-2, plus-1, in four career games against the Flyers.
In the end…
Both teams are coming off trick shot games yesterday. The Caps have the advantage of having slept in their own beds last night and have some incentive to repay the Flyers for the overtime loss they suffered in the last week in January. They will be facing a team that has been hot at the offensive end of the ice in recent games, and this could put a premium on the Caps finding a way out of their power play slump. The Caps have been a particularly resilient team of late, though, fighting off power play issues and unimpressive possession numbers to chug along with a 4-1-1 record in their last six games. Good teams find a way to get things done when some of the particulars aren’t going so well. The Caps, through those speed bumps and potholes, have been a pretty good team.
Capitals 4 – Flyers 2