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NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers (2-5-0) at Capitals (1-5-1), 7 p.m., CSN

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

It was once a marquee matchup.

These two former Eastern Conference powerhouses are now two of the worst teams in the entire league, which is still something fans aren’t used to.

The Washington Capitals will host the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, both teams desperately searching for two points. While Philadelphia is struggling, the Capitals are playing even worse, which may be the perfect medicine to get the Flyers back to their winning ways. This is one of those games that they Flyers need to win. Not because of desperation or urgency, but because they are simply the better hockey club. Washington blew a 2-0 lead in a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The Flyers may have some issues on their own end, but the Capital’s are much larger.

Between the Pipes

For the Flyers, who has one of the best goaltenders in the league right now in Ilya Bryzgalov. Despite the Flyers struggles, Bryz is posting an impressive 2.19 GAA to match a .924 SV%. He is giving this team a chance to win every night, and it’s time for his teammates to help him out.

The Capitals will go with young Braden Holtby. His numbers indicate he is struggling, but he too hasn’t been getting help from his teammates. However, neither Holtby or Michael Neuvirth have taken the reins as the true number one goalie in D.C.

Keys to Win

- Don’t get cute: The Flyers have had a boatload of man advantages this season, yet have been one of the worst powerplay units in the league (13.5 PP%). When there is an open lane for a shot, for god’s sake somebody put it on net. Stop trying to look for the “perfect” goal and go for the dirty, ugly one. Because at the end of the day, the ugly ones are always the prettiest.

- Agitate Ovechkin: It is no secret that captain Alexander Ovechkin is not playing at the level he wants to. Good. The Flyers need to make sure that continues come Friday. Attack Ovechkin and continue to throw him off of his game. The more frustrated he becomes, the worse he will perform.

- Discipline: The Flyers lead the league in minor penalties with 40 this season. Gee, no wonder they are sitting at a 2-5 record. Stay disciplined, don’t take dumb penalties, stay out of the box. Simple enough, right?


Danny Briere will join Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds on the first line on Friday night. Briere had a team-high 10 shots on Tuesday night (finally someone has the right idea). He has a great relationship with Giroux. The two lived together for some time, as well as played together in Europe for a bit.

Which team will finally step up on special teams? Both teams rank towards the bottom of penalty killing percentage and neither team has higher than 20% on the powerplay. Odds are, whoever executes on special teams will come out victorious.