The Caps are in Philadelphia for the Flyers' Saturday night home opener, putting a coda on Washington's first set of back-to-back games this season. The Caps started off the set on a good note, earning a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils in Newark on Friday night.
Another Debut On Tap - Friday's win over the Devils proved to be a costly one. Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen left the game late in the second period and did not return. On Saturday morning, the team announced that the durable defenseman had been placed on long term injured reserve and is listed as "week-to-week."
Niskanen has missed a grand total of five games in the last four seasons, with four of those coming in 2016-17. A steady two-way defender who plays in all situations and who has averaged more than 20 minutes a night in ice time for five straight seasons, Niskanen will be difficult for the Capitals to replace.
In the wake of that injury, Washington recalled Madison Bowey from AHL Hershey. Bowey, the final player cut at this fall's training camp, was Washington's second-round pick (53rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. He will make his NHL debut with the Caps against the Flyers tonight.
Over the last two seasons, a total of four players have made their NHL debuts with the Capitals. Bowey becomes the third player to do so before the 2017-18 campaign is even two weeks old.
"For me, it's just keeping it simple," says the 22-year-old Bowey. "I'm lucky to have a great team behind me that is supporting me, so I'll just go from there. Just doing the little things right and being good with my details and hopefully I can get comfortable after the first period and just not look back from there."
Bowey learned of his impending recall late Friday night, after the Caps had done a quick assessment of Niskanen's injury, and less than an hour after Washington finished off the Devils in Newark.
"It's a dream that I've had since I was five years old, so I think I'm just going to try to enjoy it, and have fun with it, and do the best I can," says Bowey. "It's definitely going to be a great experience for me and my family and I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Bowey contacted his parents in Western Canada upon learning of his recall; they were at his younger brother's game at the time. Soon afterwards, Bowey's older brother and his immediate family were pressed into service, helping father Will book a flight that would get him from Kelowna, B.C. to Philly to witness his son's debut.
"Luckily my sister-in-law works with WestJet," says Bowey. "She helped [my dad] out a little bit and got him on the first flight out to [Philadelphia]."
Video: Two-Man Advantage | October 14
Road Warriors - Washington has opened the season by collecting at least a point in each of its first three road games, and it will be aiming to stretch that streak to four on Saturday night in Philadelphia. The Caps won each of their first four road games to start the 1991-92 and 2015-16 seasons, marking the only two previous times in franchise history that Washington started its season with at least a point in each of its first four road games.
"I think it's important," says Caps right wing T.J. Oshie. "I think the mentality of going on the road and getting a win sticks with you for a while. If you get into a hole early, in the beginning of the season, where you can't get wins on the road, I feel like it's harder to pick that up than it is to pick up some wins at home. It's important for us, we've got to keep it rolling here, we've got a back-to-back so we'll get some rest and try to do it again [Saturday]."
Video: Barry Trotz Pregame | October 14
Live By The Extra Man, Die By The Extra Man - Thus far in the early going of the 2017-18 season, both the Capitals and the Flyers have netted their fair share of power-play goals.
Washington boasts the league's best power play from a percentage standpoint (35.3%), and the Caps are tied for second in the NHL with six power play goals. The Flyers are tied for fifth with five extra-man tallies.
On the other side of the special teams coin, both the Caps and Flyers have permitted five power-play goals to date. The Caps rank 19th in the league at 79.2% while Philly is 29th at 70.6%.
At five-on-five in the young season, the Caps own a 14-8 positive goal differential, and they rank second in the NHL to Chicago (19) in five-on-five goals for. The Flyers are also on the positive side of the ledger at five-on-five, but only at 6-5.
Only three teams - Los Angeles and Carolina (three each) and Colorado (two) have surrendered fewer five-on-five goals this season.
Video: Rinkside Update | Tom Wilson | October 14
In The Nets - Back on Feb. 27, 2013, Caps goaltender Philipp Grubauer made his NHL debut here in Philadelphia at Wells Fargo Center. Grubauer came on in relief of starter Braden Holtby in that contest - a 4-1 Washington loss - and stopped all 14 shots he faced in 25:05 of relief work.
Tonight, Grubauer gets his second starting assignment of the season against the Flyers. He started Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Lightning in Tampa, stopping 36 of 40 shots. Grubauer was excellent in that game, and was directly responsible for Washington earning a single point in that game. With his starting assignment tonight and with back-to-backs looming for the Capitals on each of the next two weekends, Grubauer figures to start four of the team's first dozen games this season.
Lifetime against the Flyers, Grubauer is 2-1-0 in four appearances, with a shutout, a 1.69 GAA and a .935 save pct.
For the Flyers, Brian Elliott gets his fourth starting assignment in five games this season. The 32-year-old veteran of 11 NHL seasons is now toiling for his fifth NHL club. Elliott is 2-1-0 with a 3.67 GAA and an .876 save pct. this season. Lifetime against Washington, Elliott is 6-5-0 in 13 appearances with a 3.31 GAA and an .888 save pct.
Video: Madison Bowey | October 14
All Lined Up - Here's how we expect the Caps and the Flyers to look on Saturday night when they take to the ice at Wells Fargo Center for Philadelphia's home opener:
8-Ovechkin, 92-Kuznetsov, 13-Vrana
65-Burakovsky, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
10-Connolly, 20-Eller, 43-Wilson
39-Chiasson, 83-Beagle, 25-Smith-Pelly
2-Niskanen (upper body, week-to-week)
28-Giroux, 14-Couturier, 93-Voracek
40-Weal, 51-Filppula, 17-Simmonds
22-Weise, 19-Patrick, 11-Konecny
20-Leier, 21-Laughton, 12-Raffl
36-McDonald (lower body)