Washington Capitals (54-16-5, 113 points, 1st in NHL, Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division)
Philadelphia Flyers (37-25-13, 87 points, 5th in Metropolitan Division, 8th in Eastern Conference)
Puck Drop 8 p.m. on NBC-Sports Network’s Rivalry Wednesday
In case you missed it, the Capitals checked off another season goal on their list Monday night versus Columbus: win the President’s Trophy. After securing the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference, the Caps Justin Williams scored his 22nd in the first en route to a 4-1 victory to lock up the best record in the NHL and total home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
But this means little in the grand scheme of things as the 2009-10 Capitals did the same thing, racking up 121 points. They were upset early in round one by a hot goaltender in Montreal named Jaroslav Halak (who would be a Capital for half of the 2013-14 season). Capitals Coach Barry Trotz should use this as a prime example. Sure, they have accomplished some great team goals but not the ultimate one: win the Stanley Cup.
Keep on Truckin’ to the Playoffs
The Capitals have accomplished all their regular season goals but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop playing. Trotz has made it perfectly clear that unless you’re injured, you are playing and not getting time off. However, I think we will see Holtby and Ovechkin, who seems to have a nagging injury, get some much needed rest over the next seven games.
- Holtby is three wins shy of breaking New Jersey goaltending legend Martin Brodeur’s single-season win record. Once he’s accomplished that, Grubauer will look to get a lot more playing time.
- Ovechkin leads the NHL with 43 goals. Will he accomplish 50 with seven games to go? Time will tell but he’ll get really close if he doesn’t.
- The Caps have a three-game road trip that will take them to Philly, Colorado and Arizona. Their road record is an NHL-best 25-9-3.
Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!
Fighting like their fictional Philly hero Rocky Balboa, the Flyers are entrenched in a battle with the Detroit Red Wings to see who will play the Washington Capitals in round one of the NHL playoffs. With 87 points a piece, the Flyers hold the edge on the Red Wings if they remain tied in points. With the Flyers having a game in hand (seven remaining to the Red Wings six) and a huge head-to-head matchup April 6, all they have to do is keep pace with Detroit and they’re in.
- Over the last six games since Neuvirth went down to injury, Steve Mason has gone 3-3 with a 2.33 GAA. That’s solid enough to keep them in the playoff hunt.
- Right Winger Wayne Simmonds leads the team with 26 goals while Center Claude Giroux leads the team with 42 assists.
- The Flyers have a 20-10-7 home record, good for 7th in the league.
Your goaltenders for this game will be Braden Holtby (46-9-4, 2.19 GAA, .923 save percentage) for the Capitals and Steve Mason (20-17-9, 2.52 GAA, .918 save percentage) for the Flyers.
This could be a preview of the NHL playoffs and the Caps will definitely have their hands full as this team is fighting for their playoff lives. Should be a great rivalry game.
Rock the Red! Go Caps!