Defenseman Madison Bowey will make his NHL debut for the Washington Capitals in Philadelphia tonight against the Flyers.
Washington Capitals (3-1-1) at Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-0)
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Date: Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017
Time: 7.00 PM EDT
TV: NBCSP, NBCSWA
By Glynn Cosker
DCpuckDrop Managing Editor
For a team that most experts believed to be in transition or at least much weaker than last season, the Washington Capitals aren’t doing too bad. If the club is missing Justin Williams, Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, Marcus Johansson and Daniel Winnik – they are doing a fine job of hiding it. The expectation this season is that the old guard and the rookies would be adequate at best; the expectation last season was that the Capitals would win the Stanley Cup. So, the Capitals – and in particular, Alex Ovechkin – are playing like a team with the pressure taken off them, and that may bode well for them come the spring.
Backstrom Shines Despite Pregame Injury
Washington took down the New Jersey Devils 5-2 last night in Newark, and traveled the short distance down to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center in another Metropolitan Division match-up. Nicklas Backstrom scored a goal and three assists against New Jersey – and that was after getting whacked on the head with a puck during the warm-up. For a few minutes, there was some confusion as to whether Backstrom was subsequently a last-second scratch, because he left the ice and didn’t return to complete the warm-up. Following the game, and after amassing his four points, Backstrom joked: “Maybe someone should hit me with a puck before every game.”
3 Capitals With 10 Points Each – Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov
Red-hot Ovechkin scored a goal – his ninth of the season – and tallied an assist in the Devils game. Not to be outdone, T. J. Oshie recorded two goals and an assist; Jakub Vrana was credited with the Caps’ other goal on a night of solid play from Washington. Five games into this NHL season, the Capitals’ Ovechkin, Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov sit atop the points table with 10 points each. With some hit-or-miss play from the Caps’ defense, the top-two lines are providing the goods – as is goalie Braden Holtby who has a save percentage of .923 and a GAA of 2.47, so far. However, there’s a strong possibility that backup Philipp Grubauer will start in net tonight.
Best Power-Play Versus Second Worse Penalty Kill
The Philadelphia Flyers, in its home-opener and beginning a five-game homestead, are looking to bounce back from a 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night in Tennessee; they’ve had four days off, while the Capitals have had less than 24 hours to ponder tonight’s outing. A key factor in this evening’s game for the Flyers will be staying out of the penalty box. The Flyers sit 30th out of 31 NHL teams on the penalty kill at 70.6 percent, while the Capitals are first in the NHL for power-play conversions at 35.3 percent. Interestingly, the Capitals are dead last in the NHL in average shots-per-game, which clearly illustrates the accuracy of the teams’ offense over its first five games.
Madison Bowey To Make NHL Debut
Making his NHL debut tonight will be the Capitals’ promising defenseman Madison Bowey. The 22-year-old was all set to play for the Hershey Bears when he got late word that he was needed in Philadelphia to replace the injured Matt Niskanen. He immediately FaceTimed his parents to share the news. “They were actually both watching my little brother’s game, so they kind of had to pause that and kind of take the news in,” Bowey told the Washington Post.
Bowey will line up alongside Christian Djoos as the Capitals’ third defensive paring. The two have a combined NHL experience of two games. That said, Bowey has a golden opportunity to compete for a coveted position on the Capitals evolving new blue line. Aaron Ness is also expected to retain his place, which will make the Caps’ top-three D-men as tired as ever. Not playing at home, Washington won’t be able to influence the match-ups so John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Dmitry Orlov will likely feature more than usual and will rack up the minutes in Philadelphia.
There is no love lost between the Capitals and the Flyers; fisticuffs will likely feature, for sure.
Capitals’ Likely Lineup:
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Jakub Vrana
Andre Burakovsky – Nicklas Backstrom – T. J. Oshie
Brett Connolly – Lars Eller – Tom Wilson
Alex Chiasson – Jay Beagle – Devante Smith-Pelly
Dmitri Orlov – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Aaron Ness
Christian Djoos – Madison Bowey
Likely to start in goal: Philipp Grubauer