Matt Read takes a shot in warm-ups for the game against last week against the San Jose Sharks, which the Flyers lost 7-3. Image c/o Amy Irvin of 38Photography.
The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their first game in their return to action this past week with a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, but rebounded nicely yesterday afternoon against the New York Rangers with a 4-2 win. With the two points the Flyers gained in regulation, they have inched within one point of tying the Rangers for the second spot in the extremely tight Metropolitan Division playoff race. The Washington Capitals are just one point behind the Flyers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are four points behind with one game in hand.
In the two games after the Olympic Break, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds both have a goal and two assists and now they have 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) and 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) respectively. Third line center Sean Couturier has a goal and an assist to bring his point total to 30 (10 goals, 20 assists) on the year.
The Flyers have three games this very crucial week: two games against the Washington Capitals in their second home-and-home series this season with Washington, and one against the Toronto Maple Leafs to cap it off. If the Flyers can gain points in at least two of these games, they will be setting themselves up nicely to separate themselves in the playoff race. You can get tickets to every remaining Philadelphia Flyer game at tiqiq.com.
Washington Capitals on 03.02.2014 at 12:30 PM in Washington D.C.
Washington Capitals on 03.05.2014 at 8:00 PM in Philadelphia
The Washington Capitals currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and are just one point out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. With wins over Philadelphia in the next two games, they could leap frog into second place in the Metropolitan. The Capitals have won four straight and have scored 16 goals in that span. The Flyers are 1-1-1 against the Capitals this year as they lost a 7-0 drubbing in the first game of the year between the two clubs, a 5-4 shootout loss, and a 5-2 victory at the Wells Fargo Center the last time these two teams met. Nicklas Backstrom has six points in the three games played so far. Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr each have four points, while Mikhail Grabovski and Washington Captain Alex Ovechkin each have three points.
Washington’s power play is lethal as it currently sits in second overall at 22.7%, while their penalty kill is 18th in the league, as they’ve knocked off 81.3% of man-down situations. The Flyers may have a slight edge in special teams as their penalty kill has an 83.3% success rate, as they sit in seventh overall, while they score on 19.3% of their man-advantages which has them sitting in 14th overall.
In terms of scoring for the year, Ovechkin is leading the charge with 43 goals and 65 points (22 assists), while Nicklas Backstrom has 48 assists and 60 points (12 goals). Marcus Johansson has 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists), Joel Ward has 35 points (18 goals, 17 assists), Grabovski has 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists), and both Chimera (12 goals, 18 assists) and Mike Green (seven goals, 23 assists) both have 30 points.
In net Braden Holtby has garnered the majority of starts and he is 19-13-2, with a 2.89 goals against average, a .913 save percentage, and three shutouts. Michal Neuvirth has been backing Holtby up of late and he has gone 4-6-2, with a 2.82 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage.
As far as this team is concerned: if Philadelphia can shut down the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, they should have a good shot at winning the game.
Toronto Maple Leafs on 03.08.2014 at 7:00 PM in Toronto
The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting in fourth in the Atlantic Division and have a four point lead on the first of two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference, despite having 72 points. The Maple Leafs won the first meeting of the season against the Flyers all the way back on October 2nd of 2013. In that game, Philadelphia opened the scoring in the first period with a tally from Brayden Schenn, but Toronto received three unanswered goals, one from Phil Kessel and two from Dave Bolland, in route to a 3-1 victory. Jonathan Bernier was fantastic in that contest, stopping 31 of 32 shots fired his way.
Allowing their netminders to see a ton of rubber is the norm for the Leafs, who currently allow more shots than any team in the entire league at a 36.1 shots against per game clip, while mustering a 25th overall 27.6 shots for per game. Their special teams are at either end of the spectrum as their power play operates at a 21.4% success rate, good enough to be tied for third in the league, while their penalty kill has a miserable 77.5% kill rate, putting them in 28th in the NHL.
The Leafs are led by Kessel who has 69 points (33 goals, 36 assists). Former-Flyer James van Riemsdyk has 52 points (26 goals, 26 assists), Nazem Kadri has 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists), while Tyler Bozak (12 goals, 23 assists), Joffrey Lupul (18 goals, 17 assists), and Mason Raymond (16 goals, 19 assists) all have 35 points.
Jonathan Bernier has gotten the call the majority of the time for the Leafs. He is 22-16-7, with a 2.63 goals against average, a .924 save percentage, and one shutout to his credit this year. James Reimer has been stead as a backup going 10-6-1, with a 3.25 goals against average, a .911 save percentage, and one shutout as well.
The Leafs are a very opportunistic team. If the Flyers can stay out of the box and keep them from striking quickly, they should be able to even up the season series at a game apiece.