FLYERS (5-3-1) at CAPITALS (6-2-2)
This is the second of four meetings between the two Eastern Conference rivals. The Flyers took the first game of the season series, a wild 6-5 final in overtime that was one of the best games in the NHL so far in 2009-10.
This is an early season rematch most NHL fans have been waiting for. The first game in this season series turned into fantastic theater. Danny Briere
scored the OT winner for the Flyers, but not before Mike Richards had a hat trick, Alex Ovechkin
a pair of goals and an assist, Alexander Semin
two goals, Matt Carle
four assists, Nicklas Backstrom
three helpers and Kimmo Timonen
a goal and two assists. Goaltenders beware tonight. Catch it on Versus, TSN and RDS.
A promising homestand that started with wins over Boston and Florida ended with a thud as Philadelphia lost to San Jose, 4-1, Sunday night. The Flyers allowed three unanswered goals over the final two periods while also committing five penalties, including one that negated a power play chance. It was, however, their third game in four nights and tonight is their fourth game in six nights. Fatigue could be an issue, but not for goalie Ray Emery, who will likely get the start. He sat Sunday in favor of Brian Boucher for the first time this season. Emery allowed five goals on 36 shots in the first meeting against Washington.
You can call them ugly, but the Capitals are calling them wins; four in a row, in fact. The only pretty win the Caps have had during this stretch of success was their 4-1 shellacking of San Jose on Oct. 15. Since then they have won three straight by one goal, including a shootout win over Nashville and an overtime win on Long Island after trailing by two goals for the first time this season. Jose Theodore played Saturday for the first time since coming out of the game against San Jose after the first period with back spasms. He had 28 saves for the win.
The Flyers are spreading it out pretty good so far. Arron Asham, new to the top line with Richards and Gagne, had goals in three straight games before getting shut out Sunday. Rookie James van Riemsdyk
has points in three of the last four games and Briere had two goals and an assist in their 5-1 win over Florida on Saturday night. … Caps defensemen Mike Green
and Jeff Schultz
are each on fire. Green has points in each of the last five games (2-4-6) while Schultz has four points (1-3-4) over the last two games. Mike Knuble
has a goal and six assists in the last five games.
The Flyers will likely again be without defenseman Ryan Parent (lower body injury). Center Blair Betts
is working his way back from a preseason shoulder injury, but is not healthy yet. The Caps should have Alexander Semin
back in the lineup after he missed two games with an undisclosed injury/illness. He skated with Alex Ovechkin
and Nicklas Backstrom
in Monday's practice, but coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn't say for sure that's the line he'd be on tonight. Green left Monday's practice with general soreness, but should be good to go tonight. Defenseman John Erskine
remains day-to-day with a bruised hand and center Boyd Gordon is out with back issues. Wing Tomas Fleischmann (blood clot) is in Hershey of the AHL on a conditioning stint.
The Caps have won the last two games despite getting only one assist and six shots on goal from Ovechkin and zero points and seven shots from Backstrom. … Washington has its best record through 10 games since 1997-98, the year it won the Eastern Conference championship. ... The Caps power-play is 0-for-11 in the last two games, but that was without Semin. … Flyers center Jeff Carter has no goals and three assists in the last five games. He had seven points in four games against the Caps last season. … Philadelphia's defense pairing of Braydon Coburn
and Kimmo Timonen
is a combined minus-15 on the season after going minus-6 against San Jose.
"Points-wise we're where we want to be. I think it's 114 points if we kept this up," Boudreau said of the Caps' first 10 games. "I don't think we're as consistent as we want to be, but hopefully that will get there as the season progresses. Every game takes on more importance and the players get into the whole season. It's still early."
-- Dan Rosen, NHL.com