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Drop The Puck Already: Flyers-Caps, Part 3

Elliott to start, line changes and other news heading into tonight's crucial game in Washington

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

The next week will be crucial for Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers. Beginning tonight with a road game against Todd Reirden's NHL-leading Washington Capitals, the Flyers face a string of four games in six nights. Each and every one has significant implications for the Flyers in the playoff race.

With neither team holding a skate at Capital One Arena, below are the storylines to get you prepped before puck drop:

* Flyers captain Claude Giroux moved from center back to left wing, and was reunited with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Giroux, who has gone without a point in the last four games and is 13 games removed from his last goal, welcomed the reunion.

GIROUX: "I've said this before. It doesn't matter to me if I play wing or center. Whatever helps us win... What matters [most] is we need to play our game as a team. When we do that, we are a hard team to beat."

* On Friday evening, the Flyers recalled Morgan Frost from the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He will center the rearranged third line with James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Pitlick on his wings. With Frost returning to the Flyers, Andy Andreoff returned the Phantoms.

* Frost may or may not be part of the second power play unit. Scott Laughton, who has not played on the power play since early in his NHL career, might get the opportunity in lieu of the 20-year-old rookie. Laughton practiced with the unit on Friday. 

* Friday's practice saw personal and structural changes on the units. Unit 1 had Giroux in his personally favored left half-boards spot, Voracek in his favored right side spot, Sean Couturier as the bumper, Travis Konecny at netfront and Ivan Provorov at the point. Unit 2 had Kevin Hayes, JVR, Laughton, Shayne Gostisbehere and Matt Niskanen.

* Gostisbehere practiced as the seventh defenseman on Friday. Unless the team goes with 11 forwards (Connor Bunnaman could be a candidate to be scratched) and seven defenseman, Gostisbehere may be scratched. If so, Travis Sanheim will play the second power play left point spot. 

* Brian Elliott will get the start in goal in Washington, backed up by Alex Lyon. Carter Hart (lower right abdominal strain) is close to returning; perhaps as soon as Monday or Tuesday. 

LINE PLAY - FLYERS
28 Claude Giroux - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
21 Scott Laughton - 13 Kevin Hayes - 11 Travis Konecny
25 James van Riemsdyk - 48 Morgan Frost - 18 Tyler Pitlick
12 Michael Raffl - 82 Connor Bunnaman - 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel

9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
6 Travis Sanheim -5 Phil Myers
8 Robert Hägg - 61 Justin Braun

37 Brian Elliott
[34 Alex Lyon]

BEHIND ENEMY LINES (Quotes courtesy: @Capitals)
* The main focus around this game from the Capitals side is whether Alex Ovechkin can bag two goals on home ice against the Flyers. If he does, the future Hall of Famer will hit the 700-goal milestone for his career.

* Braden Holtby will get the start in net for Washington. 

* On Saturday, the Caps recalled defenseman Martin Fehervary from the AHL's Hershey Bears. The 20-year-old has previously appeared in four games for Washington. Fehervary may start on the third pair, along with ex-Flyer Radko Gudas.

REIRDEN: "I think you'll see Orlov the majority of time on the right. But with our system and how things go, a lot of times they'll end up on either side, just with motion and movement and in the offensive zone, or going back for a rush; sometimes you end up on opposite sides." 

LINE PLAY - CAPITALS
8 Alex Ovechkin - 19 Nicklas Backström - 43 Tom Wilson
13 Jakub Vrana - 92 Evgeny Kuznetsov - 77 T.J. Oshie
62 Carl Hagelin - 20 Lars Eller - 14 Richard Panik
28 Brendan Leipsic - 26 Nic Dowd - 21 Garnet Hathaway

6 Michal Kempny - 74 John Carlson
9 Dmitry Orlov - 3 Nick Jensen
42 Martin Fehervary - 33 Radko Gudas

70 Braden Holtby
[30 Ilya Samsonov]

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