Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), from Sweden, and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn (5), watch a goal by Alex Ovechkin, from Russia, go past goalie Steve Mason (35) in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-4 in a shootout. Ovechkin's goal sent the game into overtime and the Capitals won 5-4 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NHL on NBCSN: Third time’s the charm for Flyers vs Capitals?


NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Philadelphia Flyers have already fired their head coach this season and they attempted to shake things up with the acquisition of forward Steve Downie. That hasn’t ended the team’s struggles and after they blew a 4-1 lead to the Washington Capitals in the final nine minutes of regulation time, Flyers owner Ed Snider was forced to once again weigh his options.

“Whatever we can do to help the team get over the hump, we will do,” Snider said.

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Despite their mediocre to bad showing thus far, the Flyers remain tantalizingly close to a playoff spot in the anemic Metropolitan Division. That makes tonight’s rematch against Washington more than just a chance at revenge. It’s an opportunity to push themselves forward in their ongoing battle for a postseason berth.

The Capitals are sure to make things tough for them though. They aren’t 2-0 against the Flyers this season because they have their number, they’re just a genuinely good team.

Alex Ovechkin alone makes them a big threat on a nightly basis. He had five goals in three contests last week, bringing him up to an incredible 27 in 31 games. That’s more goals than any Flyers player has in points.

He’s not their only weapon though. Nicklas Backstrom is continuing his trend of averaging about a point-per-game, Mikhail Grabovski is on pace to comfortably surpass his previous career-high of 58 points, and 23-year-old Marcus Johansson has developed into a solid offensive threat.

They also rank second in the league with a 24.4% conversation rate on their power-play opportunities. That means Philadelphia should attempt to play a disciplined game, although that hasn’t been something they’ve been able to do for the most part this season.

With that in mind, the Flyers will need to lean on its goaltending, which has typically been strong in 2013-14 even if that hasn’t been the case in their previous meetings against Washington. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Flyers would lose a high-scoring contest. They have a talent group of forwards despite their struggles this season and that’s shone through at various times.

Perhaps the Flyers will come out strong tonight and if they do, maybe they’ll be able to hold onto the lead. One thing is apparent though: If the Flyers don’t act soon; Snider will.

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February:

Report: Habs will be Price-less for the next month

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It looks like the Canadiens will be without star goaltender Carey Price for the next month, per RDS.

“We still don’t know what the nature of the injury is, but we’re convinced it’s his right knee,” hockey analyst François Gagnon said on a french television show on Friday. “The Canadiens are preparing for him to be out for more than a week. They’re preparing for him to be out for a month.”

Price missed nine games with a lower-body injury between Oct. 30 and Nov. 19.

The 28-year-old won all three of his starts since returning, but he was forced from Wednesday’s game against the Rangers leading some to believe he came back too soon.

After Friday’s win over the Devils, Michel Therrien denied the validity of the report.

The Canadiens will have to provide an update on Price’s injury at some point, but their camp doesn’t typically give many details when it comes to this sort of thing.