The Capitals will look to take a 2-0 lead on the Flyers in their first-round playoff series tonight at Verizon Center. You can catch the game on CSN beginning with our hour-long pregame show beginning at 6 p.m. Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
What can we expect?: Several Capitals said they were happy with their 5-on-5 play in Game 1 but expect a big push from the Flyers, who are now focused on getting out of the District with a split.
“You assume they’re going to change a couple things,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. “They’re going to want to throw everything at us now. Throw everything at the net and crash hard.”
The Caps held the Flyers to just eight shots in the final two periods of Game 1 and goaltender Braden Holtby said a big reason was the Caps’ ability to slow Philadelphia’s speed.
“They’re very creative, very skilled and they work well with each other off the rush,” said Holtby, who stopped all 19 shots he faced for his third career playoff shutout. “In order to stop that you need that third and fourth guy coming back finding that late guy. We frustrated them on the rush and that takes away a big part of their game.”
Replacing ‘Coots’: With Flyers checking-line center Sean Couturier out for the remainder of the series with an upper body injury following Alex Ovechkin’s shoulder check into the boards, the Flyers are expected to insert Scott Laughton into the lineup.
Laughton, 21, has played in just two games since March 24. He is expected to play on a third line with center Nick Cousins and right wing Matt Read. That would mean the Flyers could go with a second line of San Gagner, center Brayden Schenn and right wing Michael Raffl.
Schenn vs. Richards: Schenn was the most physical player on the ice in Game 1, throwing seven body checks, including a big one on Caps center Mike Richards. The two were traded for each other in the summer of 2011, when Schenn went to the Flyers and Richards went to L.A.
“They were going at it,” Trotz said with a smile.
Schenn said he expects the physicality (56 hits between the two teams) to continue in Game 2.
“I think that’s the way the series is going to be,” Schenn said Friday. “There are some big boys on their side that like to throw their body around but can still play the skill game as well. You’ll get it from their top guys that are throwing the body. Same as our side. That’s the kind of style of hockey we knew it was going to be in this series and Game 1 showed it.”
Crease crashers: The Flyers promised to take away the eyes of Caps goalie Braden Holtby before the series began but the Caps surrendered just eight shots in the final 40 minutes of Game 1.
Holtby said he’s able to see through and around stationary screens but said it’s when players cut through his crease that things can get dicey.
“Today’s rules, you can’t really move a guy out as easily and even when doing that it creates more of a screen because there’s more movement involved,” he said. “My main thing, and our team’s main thing, is to take sticks away. Deflections and second (opportunity) pucks are more what we rely on the D men for. I’m there for the first shot.”
Philly power outage: The Flyers went 0-for-4 on the man-advantage in Game 1. They now have gone five of their last six games without a power play goal and are 3-for-21 during that stretch.
“For us, we have to get those guys shooting at the top,” Schenn said of the Flyers’ point men. “If they start shooting, then we get a few one-timers and maybe a few lanes open up.”