Washington (39-12-7) at Philadelphia (28-24-7)
When: Wednesday, February 22nd 2017
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC Sports
The Philadelphia Flyers look to keep pace in the very tight race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot when they host the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night (NBCS TV). The Flyers have lost five of their last seven overall to fall to 11th place in the conference standings, but are only three points behind current 8th place team, Florida. Captain Claude Giroux’s scoring struggles continued in Philadelphia’s three-game road trip through Western Canada, as he managed just one point – an assist – during the trip and has scored and set up a goal with a -8 rating in his last 10 games overall. Giroux could get a spark tonight against a team that he scored in the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout win on December 21st and has posted 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 31 career meetings against the Capitals. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere found the scoresheet on Sunday by recording a career-high three assists to match his point total from his previous 14 games combined. Brayden Schenn scored with the man advantage in both Thursday’s 6-3 loss at Edmonton and Sunday’s 3-2 victory versus Vancouver to raise his total to a league-leading 14 power-play goals this season. Goalie Michal Neuvirth is expected to get the start against the team that selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft.
The Capitals look to prevent matching a season-high losing streak on Wednesday when they conclude a three-game road trip against the Flyers. Washington, which dropped three straight from November 26th-December 3rd, managed just three goals in losses over the weekend on the heels of seeing its NHL second-ranked offense explode for 30 goals during a six-game winning streak. Captain Alex Ovechkin recorded his 22nd point (nine goals, 13 assists) in 19 games on Sunday when he scored in a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers, but has been limited to just one assist in two meetings this season versus Philadelphia. Historically, Ovechkin has owned the Flyers, accumulating 48 points (31 goals, 17 assists) in his previous 41 matchups against them. Nicklas Backstrom saw his eight-game point streak come to an end on Sunday, but has recorded 31 of his team-leading 61 points in his past 21 games. Backstrom grabbed a pair of his club-leading 44 assists in Washington’s 5-0 victory over Philadelphia on January 15th, increasing his point total to 46 (14 goals, 32 assists) in 36 career encounters versus the Flyers. Washington has allowed two goals or fewer in an NHL-best 37 games this season, posting a 29-2-6 mark in that stretch.
The Flyers have been struggling to score goals, but they play well against top-tier teams at home and are 10-4 against Washington at Wells Fargo Center in the last 14 encounters. I like the home dog here tonight.
Pick: Flyers +135
HEAD TO HEAD