Flyers-Capitals 5 Things: Teams Trending in Opposite Directions

Flyers at Capitals
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The reeling Flyers, who took it on the chin with a 6-3 loss to the Bruins on Saturday in Boston, face a quick turnaround as they're in D.C. on Sunday to meet the scorching-hot Capitals in an afternoon matinee at the Verizon Center.
 
Let's take a closer look at Sunday's matchup, the last game for the Flyers before their five-day bye week:
 
1. One up, one down
To say the Flyers and Capitals are trending in opposite directions would be quite the understatement.

The Flyers have been mired in a state of misery since their 10-game win streak came to an end in mid-December, going 3-7-3 in the 13 games since. That stretch includes an ugly eight-game losing streak on the road (0-6-2). It just so happens Sunday's game is on the road in D.C. against a Caps team that has won eight straight games, including a 6-0 trouncing of the Blackhawks on Friday night.

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Plenty has changed since these two teams last met on Dec. 21 in Philadelphia, a 3-2 Flyers victory in a shootout. After that game, the Flyers had 44 points and sat fourth in the Metropolitan Division, four points back of the division-leading Blue Jackets and two points ahead of the Caps. Since then, the Caps have leapfrogged the Flyers by miles. The Caps' 61 points have them second in the Metro, right on the heels of the first-place Jackets. The Flyers, meanwhile, have earned just six points in the standings since that last meeting and are clinging to a wild-card spot in the East.

On paper, this has mismatch written all over it with how each team has played recently. But, that's why they play the games, right?
 
2. Give it away on the power play
While the Flyers' offense has struggled with just 1.92 goals per game in the 13 games after the 10-game win streak, the Flyers still have a dangerous power play.

That is if they're not giving up short-handed goals to the opposition.

While the Flyers are hitting on the man advantage at a 23.4 percent clip (fourth best in the NHL), they're giving up shorties at an alarming rate.

Brad Marchand's first-period goal while shorthanded on Saturday afternoon in Beantown was the eighth shorty the Flyers have given up this season in 45 games. That's an astounding number that leads the league.

The bad news for the Flyers is they face another aggressive penalty kill on Sunday. The Caps enter the game with a 86.1 penalty-kill success rate, good for third in the league. They also have scored three short-handed goals this season.

Be on alert, whomever Dave Hakstol starts in net.
 
3. Bye, bye bye
As mentioned above, Sunday's contest against the Caps will be the Flyers' final game before their five-day bye week. A new rule put in this season mandates that every team has a five-day bye week at some point in the middle of the season. The Flyers' bye week happens to be this week. So, after Sunday, the Flyers won't play again until Saturday night when they welcome the Devils to Wells Fargo Center.

Ron Hextall is on record as thinking the bye week is asinine, but that's another story.

Sunday will mark the Flyers' 46th game of the season, which will tie them with the Bruins, Flames, Jets and Blackhawks for most in the league by the time Sunday's action around the league is complete.

That's a lot of hockey the Flyers have played already, and this break probably comes at the right time with as poorly they've played in recent weeks. They can recharge and clear their heads.

The other side of it is the other teams with games in hand behind the Flyers in the standings have prime opportunities to catch up. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Flyers out of the playoff picture by the time the Devils come to town on Saturday night.

4. Keep an eye on….
Flyers: There weren't a ton of positives coming out of Saturday's mess in Beantown, but Brayden Schenn did extend his points streak to five games with a power-play goal, so let's go with him. He's scored in each of his last four games and is up to 14 tallies on the season, with a league-leading 11 coming on the power play. He's got eight points in 20 regular season games vs. Washington.
 
Capitals: Gotta go with the Great 8, right? Alexander Ovechkin hit a major milestone this past Wednesday when he notched career point No. 1,000 with a goal against the Penguins. He's picked things up after a slow start this year with six goals and six assists in his last 10 games. And, of course, he's been known to haunt the Flyers with 31 goals and 17 assists for 48 points in 42 career regular-season games against them.
 
5. This and that
• Washington goalie Braden Holtby, the defending Vezina Trophy winner, has been stellar again so far this season for Washington. He's 21-8-4 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .933 save percentage this season.

• Schenn's five-game point streak ties a career-high mark.

• Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's opening tally Saturday in Boston marked the first time in eight games the Flyers scored the first goal of a game. The last time the scored the first goal of a game before Saturday was on Dec. 28 in St. Louis.

• Mark Streit led the Flyers with four shots on goal in his return to action on Saturday against the Bruins. He has missed the previous 14 games with a shoulder injury.
 
• REMINDER: Sunday's game was pushed back earlier this week from a 12:30 start time. You've got an extra half hour to sleep in now.

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