Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding, right, stops a shot by Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Flyers experience deja vu in shutout loss


If you were a Philadelphia Flyers fan looking to dismiss last night’s 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild, you would have grounds to do so.

Philadelphia was without forward Vincent Lecavalier and facing one of this season’s top goaltenders in Josh Harding. At the same time, just 21 shots even reached Harding last night.

“Same story as the start of the year; we just need to get more pucks to the net and maybe more traffic and the puck will start going in,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Their early offensive struggles put them in an 4-10-1 hole that they spent most of November trying to climb out of. They’re in a far better position now, but the Flyers have managed just seven goals in regulation in their last five games. They also still rank near the bottom of the league in goals per contest this season.

The silver lining is that Philadelphia’s goaltending has been superb and they are in the thick of the battle for a postseason spot, albeit partially because the Metropolitan Division has been anemic.

The Flyers are heading to Detroit next for a match on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Philadelphia might have Lecavalier back in time for that match and they could certainly use all the offensive help they can get right now.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?