CAPS GAME NIGHT--Game 61: Caps Host Philthy Phlyers

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals play in the Southeast Conference, but all their rivals hail from Pennsylvania. The Caps host their other arch-nemesis, the Philadelphia Flyers, at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center, fresh off a 5-2 pasting of their foes from western PA Sunday afternoon on national television.

The Caps (38-17-5-81, first in Southeast), in the middle of a five-game homestand, look to provide a rude welcome to the Flyers, fourth place in the conference and 10 points behind the second place Capitals. Washington trails Boston for the lead by just seven points entering play tonight.

The teams have split their last six meetings and both games this season. Philadelphia routed the Capitals 7-1 at home Dec. 20 in a loss that was every bit as demoralizing as the score would indicate, but the Caps prevailed in a 2-1 shootout win on Jan. 6.

The Flyers are 2-0-1 in their last three trips to the Verizon Center.

Philadelphia won two of three last week, beating the Rangers 5-2 on the road and Buffalo 6-3 at home, before falling to Pittsburgh 5-4 Saturday night. The Caps have won four of their last five games, and remain poised for one more run at the Bruins for top seed in the conference.

Jose Theodore will play a big role in tonight's game. He is 4-1-0 with a 2.02 goals against average in his last five games against Philly, and 4-1-1 with a 2.60 GAA in his last six games. But Philadelphia will bring the heat, having scored 20 goals in its last four games.

In addition, Philly leads the league in short-handed goals with 16. Flyers' captain Mike Richards (23-37-60, plus-23) has seven to lead the NHL, with a shorty in his last three games. Jeff Carter (34-26-50, plus 12) and Simon Gagne (22-31-53, plus-23) each have four short-handed markers.

The Caps' power play leads the Eastern Conference and is third in the league at 24.1 percent, so we should see fireworks when Washington has a man advantage either way. Philly's power play is no slouch either, fourth overall in the NHL, just behind Washington.

The Caps will miss Viktor Kozlov, who will sit out his eighth straight game with a pulled groin. The team hopes he will return to action Thursday night after taking extra work at the pre-game skate this morning. Staffan Kronwall will be a healthy scratch.

WAS: PP-3rd (24.1%, 59/245); PK-20th (79.8%, 59/292)
PHI: PP-4th (23.3%, 50/215); PK-8th (82.9%, 49/286)

WAS: RW Viktor Kozlov (Groin-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR)

PHI: D Derian Hatcher (Knee-IR); C Daniel Briere (Groin-IR); C Jeff Carter (Flu-Probable)