The trade deadline has received most of today’s attention, but the Washington Capitals are still playing the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. The teams most recently met on Sunday when the Flyers powered past a two-goal deficit to beat the Caps in overtime. Penalties and defensive mistakes ended up costing the Caps the game, which was the fourth meeting between the teams. Tonight’s matchup will be the final time they meet–at least in the regular season.
Having Dustin Penner on the roster gives the Capitals increased offensive depth. Penner, who was traded in exchange for John Mitchell and a fourth-round pick, will make his Capitals debut tonight against Philly. Check out the predicted lines below, courtesy of Adam Vingan.
With that said, your projected #Caps lineup this evening: 21-19-8, 17-90-20, 25-16-42, 29-83-43.
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 5, 2014
If the Caps win tonight, they’ll move into second place in the Metropolitan Division. Doing so would mean surpassing the likes of the New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Flyers themselves, who have currently claimed the number two spot. But to win the game, the Caps will have to make some serious adjustments.
The power play was 0-for-6 against the Flyers, and the penalty kill only prevented two of four possible goals. In other words, the special teams need some serious fixing. Penner could see time on the power play, but it’s not very likely at this stage. His size, however, will be an incredible asset for the Caps, especially when playing a physical team like the Flyers.
It may be easy to focus on the addition of Penner, but bear in mind that Dmitry Orlov won’t be suiting up for tonight’s game–or the next. Orlov was suspended for two games after a brutal hit on the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn. Whether the Flyers will seek revenge remains to be seen, but the Capitals cannot give in to pesky annoyances. Focusing on a clean game, avoiding dump-and-chase, and preventing board battles will help them add two points before heading to Boston.
Lastly, goaltender Philipp Grubauer has been recalled from the AHL’s Hershey Bears as an emergency backup. Braden Holtby will start, but the last-minute call-up is due to an earlier trade: one in which the Capitals traded goalie Michal Neuvirth to the Buffalo Sabres in return for Jaroslav Halak. Even the possibility of becoming Washington’s number-two goalie cannot distract Holtby; if the Caps continue to allow ridiculous amounts of shots, he must be prepared to make the saves needed for a win.