Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is hoping forward Steve Downie will do for captain Claude Giroux what he was able to do for Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche.
Specifically, provide him with some space and time to rekindle a little offensive magic.
Downie will return to the place where it all began for him Friday in Philadelphia when the Flyers host the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). Philadelphia reacquired Downie, 26, in a trade with the Avalanche on Thursday in exchange for forward Maxime Talbot.
In 11 games with the Avalanche, Downie saw plenty of time on the top line with Duchene, who currently leads the team in goals (nine), power-play goals (three) and points (13). Giroux has no goals and six assists in 11 games this season, and is a minus-7, tied for the worst mark on the team.
Downie is the 11th player reacquired by Holmgren since he assumed the role of GM in 2006. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder was drafted by the Flyers in the first round (No. 29) of the 2005 NHL Draft and played 38 games for the team before being dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Matthew Carle in 2008.
"We needed something to stir the pot," Holmgren told the Philadelphia media Thursday. "Steve is a good player, a better player than maybe people give him credit for. He's good with the puck, strong with the puck. He's a very hungry player. It's not like we wanted to get rid of him. We traded him for Matt Carle. He's blossomed into a pretty good player."
It appears as though Flyers coach Craig Berube will have Downie skating on the team's top line to open the game, alongside Giroux and Vincent Lecavalier. Berube also told reporters Friday that Adam Hall would assume Talbot's minutes on the penalty kill. Talbot averaged 3:35 of ice time when the Flyers were shorthanded this season, the most of any of the team's forwards.
The Capitals will complete a five-game road trip against the Flyers without the services of captain Alex Ovechkin, who sustained an upper-body injury sustained in a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
This will be just the 13th game Ovechkin has missed because of injury in his nine-year career and 22nd absence overall. The Capitals are 11-8-2 with Ovechkin out of the lineup.
Capitals coach Adam Oates had Martin Erat skating with Nicklas Backstrom and Eric Fehr on the team's top line in Ovechkin's absence. The third line of Jason Chimera, Mikhail Grabovski and Joel Ward has combined for five goals and 10 points over the past three games.
Here is how each team's lineup could look:
Steve Downie - Claude Giroux - Vincent Lecavalier
Scott Hartnell - Brayden Schenn - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl - Zac Rinaldo - Adam Hall
Kimmo Timonen - Erik Gustafsson
Nicklas Grossman - Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit - Luke Schenn
Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Andrej Meszaros, Hal Gill
Martin Erat - Nicklas Backstrom - Eric Fehr
Marcus Johansson - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mikhail Grabovski - Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti - Michael Latta - Tom Wilson
Nate Schmidt - Mike Green
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Alexander Urbom - Steve Oleksy
Scratched: Dmitry Orlov, Jay Beagle
Injured: Alex Ovechkin (upper body), Jack Hillen (knee), John Erskine (upper body)