The Washington Capitals have climbed as far as they can until the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin; they've already clinched the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season team. The Philadelphia Flyers are scrambling for a playoff berth, and they can help themselves by defeating the Capitals at Wells Fargo Center in the latest Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360).
The Capitals have dominated the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference for most of the season. Not so for the Flyers; they've had to dig their way out of an early hole and are battling for one of the final playoff spots in the East, and a potential first-round series against the Capitals.
As the Capitals get ready for the playoffs and the Flyers strive to get in, here are four players helping their teams make the climb:
Braden Holtby, G, Capitals -- One Washington player who still has a regular-season goal to meet is Holtby, who enters Wednesday two victories shy of Martin Brodeur's single-season NHL record of 48 victories. Perhaps more impressively, Holtby has lost 13 times (nine in regulation). Holtby also has a goals-against average of 2.19 and a save percentage of .923, proving he's not being carried by one of the best offenses in the League.
Justin Williams, RW, Capitals -- Signing Williams as a free agent in the summer of 2015 has given Washington more scoring depth. His 22 goals, including one in the Presidents' Trophy-clinching win Monday, and 50 points are the most he's had since 2011-12. But the Capitals really are counting on Williams' playoff experience: He's been a member of three Stanley Cup-winning teams, won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014 and has been on the winning team in the seven Game 7s he's played.
Steve Mason, G, Flyers -- With Michal Neuvirth out for the rest of the regular season because of a lower-body injury, the Flyers' hopes will ride on Mason, whose goaltending has helped them get into the playoff race. He's 7-2-2 since the start of March, and has allowed nine goals in his past five starts. Mason has given the Flyers a chance to win every night, and more often than not they've been turning those chances into points.
Claude Giroux, C, Flyers -- Philadelphia's captain also has stepped up down the stretch. He scored the overtime goal in the Flyers' 3-2 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday and has four goals in the past five games; two have been game-winners. Giroux leads the Flyers with 42 assists and 64 points, and he shares the lead with five game-winning goals.