Wednesday Night Hockey: Will Flyers win Metropolitan Division?

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

If there was ever going to be a race at the top of the Metropolitan Division standings, it was supposed to be between the Capitals and Penguins. Well, things haven’t exactly materialized that way lately. The Caps are very much in the mix, but the Flyers have jumped into the race.

The Flyers are just three points behind the Caps for the division crown thanks to a six-game winning streak. They’ll have a chance to cut that down to one point tonight.

“Everyone on the team has bought into the new systems, the new approach that our coaching staff has brought to us,” forward Travis Konecny said. “And it’s been awesome seeing the top guys doing whatever they can to win games.”

The experienced coaching staff the Flyers assembled with Alain Vigneault, Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo has come through for them in their first year. They’ve also watched as young players like Konecny have turned into stars.

The 22-year-old has 23 goals and 60 points in 62 games this season, but he’s also been ripping it up during this six-game win streak. Konecny has put up 12 points during the streak and it doesn’t look like he’s about to slow down either.

“I’ve learned a lot from [Giroux] on the ice and off the ice,” added Konecny. “When I see him coming to the rink every day… I’m sore. I’m not putting in the effort. But he’s already stretched out, doing a workout and pushing sleds… I’m thinking if my captain can be doing that, working that hard, then everyone else on the team should be doing the same thing.”

There’s two reasons why the Flyers have been able to close the gap between themselves and the Capitals. Clearly, they’ve been doing a lot of winning of their own. They’ve also benefitted from Washington’s recent slide.

Since losing, 7-2, to the Flyers on home ice on Feb. 8, the Caps have a 4-6-1 record. Every teams is going to go through ups and downs over the course of an 82-game season, but they need to stop the slide soon if they want to avoid finishing second or third in the Metro. Veterans like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and others should be able to stop the bleeding.

“The more experience you can have, the better,” Oshie said. “Especially when times get tough. When you have older guys — when things aren’t going your way — that aren’t freaking out and they are keeping their cool, it makes it very hard for the young guys not to follow that, so it’s important… I like our veteran leadership going into the playoffs here.”

After tonight’s game, the Capitals will play three road games against the Rangers, Penguins and Sabres over five days. Once that road trip is completed next week, they’ll have two home dates against the Red Wings and Blackhawks. It’s crucial that they come up with a good amount of points during this stretch.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.