Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gameday: at Philadelphia, Mar. 22

Can the Caps keep it up against an elite Eastern club?
The Washington Capitals are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this evening to take on the Flyers as they play the final contest of their season long five-game road swing.  The Caps are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and 37-30-6 overall for 80 standings points in 73 games.  They are therefore second in the Southeast Division, five points back of the Panthers, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Sabres in points but in the final playoff spot because they have played fewer games and hold the Regulation and Overtime Wins tiebreaker.  The Flyers, who lost their last game, are 7-2-1 in their last ten and 42-23-8 overall for 92 standings points in 73 games.  Their 92 points place them third in the highly competitive Atlantic Division and fifth overall in the East.  This is the fourth and final regular season meeting between these two clubs this season; Philadelphia has won two of the first three, including the last two.

Ilya Bryzgalov will start for Peter Laviolette's men, his sixth consecutive appearance in the Philadelphia crease.  Bryzgalov, who had struggled for most of the year, has been on fire of late, and on the campaign is 30-14-7 with a 2.48 GAA, .910 save percentage, and six shutouts; four of those shutouts have come in the last three weeks.  Outside the crease, the Flyers are suffering from several key injuries: defenseman and captain Chris Pronger, out with severe post concussion syndrome; winger James van Riemsdyk, sidelined because of foot surgery; and defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who recently had a bad disc removed from his lower back.

After he won in Detroit with a nice performance, I would expect Braden Holtby to get the call in goal this evening.  Holtby has only played in two games this year, allowing eight goals on 78 shots, and is 1-1.   On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom, sidelined with a concussion, though he has skated for seven of the last eight says and is improving.  Winger Alexander Semin missed practice Wednesday and is expected to play, but he has to be considered questionable as he missed the last eight minutes of Monday's win.  If Semin does not play, Joel Ward will return to the lineup in his stead.  If he does play, expect Dale Hunter to keep the same lineup that won in Detroit, which means Ward out along with Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  And, as always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

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