Two teams with playoff hopes meet Tuesday night in D.C. as the Washington Capitals (27-11-4) host the Philadelphia Flyers (19-6-6). The Capitals hold a 3-1 lead in the season series with four meetings to go.
Washington is neck-and-neck with the New York Islanders for the East Division lead, while Philadelphia needs the points to stay in the hunt. The Capitals are favorites at (-157) while the Flyers are road dogs at (+135). Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. Eastern.
Philadelphia Flyers Preview
The Flyers were relatively inactive at the trade deadline, moving Michael Raffl to Washington for a fifth-round pick and Erik Gustafsson to Montreal for a seventh-round pick. However, they also signed Scott Laughton to a five-year extension worth $3 million per season.
Philadelphia has struggled with consistency throughout the season, especially in net. Carter Hart is the projected starter Tuesday, but he has been statistically one of the worst goalies in the league this year. So far, Hart has an 8-11-1 record, a 3.79 save percentage, a .872 save percentage, and a shutout.
Hart also has a league-worst -18.64 goals saved above average (GSAA). The next closest goalie is Ottawa’s Matt Murray at -14.12. Only two other goalies league-wide are worse than -10.00.
Morgan Frost is still out for another three weeks or so while recovering from shoulder surgery. Other than that, it’s a clean injury report for Philly.
Washington Capitals Preview
The Capitals made one of the most surprising trade deadline acquisitions, sending Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-rounder, and a 2022 second-rounder to Detroit for right win Anthony Mantha. Mantha has spent his entire career in Detroit, and while he has three seasons remaining after this year at $5.7 million per, he also has yet to score more than 25 goals or 48 points in a season.
Washington is taking a big gamble with Mantha. If it pays off, they’ll look like wizards; if not, the deal will blow up in their face.
Russian rookie Ilya Samsonov figures to be the starter in net. This season, Samsonov has a 9-3-1 record this season, along with a 2.97 GAA, a .894 save percentage, and a shutout. While the Capitals generally give their goalies plenty of support, scoring the second-most goals per game (3.43) in the league, they also give up some high danger chances and allow 2.95 goals per game.
Washington has a relatively clean injury report as well. Michal Kempny is expected to return in May from an Achilles injury. Other than that, it’s full roster ahead for the Caps.
On to the Pick
Both of these teams have had defensive struggles at times, but the Flyers have had much more inconsistent play in net. I’m surprised they didn’t move to acquire a goaltender at the deadline to stabilize things in net, but they appear confident in Hart and Brian Elliott moving forward.
I expect Washington to win its third straight game Tuesday night in a high-scoring affair.
Free Pick: Washington Capitals (-157)
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