Quick Links

Notes from Flyers morning skate: Expect a physical Game 5


Notes from Flyers morning skate: Expect a physical Game 5

After seeing their penalty killers torched by the Washington Capitals in the first three games of their best-of-seven series, the Philadelphia Flyers responded in Game 4 by giving the Caps only two extra man opportunities with no power play goals on the night. Clearly, Philadelphia adjusted with a more disciplined effort on Wednesday, right?

That's not how the Flyers saw it.

"The refs didn't call as much, pretty much," Wayne Simmonds said after morning skate Friday. "To be honest with you, I think they let a lot of things go on both teams and that's the way I think playoff hockey should be so I thought last game was actually a well refereed game."

In truth, despite giving the Caps 17 power play opportunities in the first three games of the series, the Flyers don't really see all that much they need to change in terms of their physical play.

"I thought the previous games our problem mostly came from some of the stick penalties that we were taking," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "There's no impact to those except the negative impact of giving them the opportunity on the power play plus the momentum that they build from that power play."

Excluding misconduct penalties, of which the Flyers have been assessed four, Philadelphia has taken 27 penalties over the course of the series. If we take "stick penalties" to mean high sticking, holding the stick, cross checking and slashing, then only seven of those 27 penalties would qualify.

RELATED: Trotz addresses Orpik's upper body injury

Obviously the Caps, who have submitted two different hits from the Flyers to the NHL for review, would disagree with that assessment.

When asked about Barry Trotz's complaints, Hakstol said, "I''m not too worried. I mean, we'll always listen if the league brings something to us. We take a lot of pride in playing the game the right way and playing hard."

So if you're assuming you're going to see a less physical effort from the Flyers in Game 5, you're in for a surprise.

In fact, the physical Colin McDonald will remain in the lineup for Philadelphia due to the injury to Scott Laughton. McDonald made his series debut on Wednesday in place of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who was serving a one-game suspension for hitting Dmitry Orlov from behind in Game 3.

According to his teammates, the 6-foot-2, 219-pound forward added an extra physical element in Game 4.

"He's a big guy, physical guy," Simmonds said. "He gets up and down the ice really quickly, he's got a great shot and he uses his body to his advantage."

If Philadelphia intends to play another physical game, then their playoff fate may rest in just how closely the refs will call Game 5. If the Flyers cannot stay out of the penalty box, chances are they will be heading home for good Friday night.


Neuvirth back in net: Michal Neuvirth will get the start in Game 5 for Philadelphia after leading the team to its only win in the series thus far. When teams switch goalies in the postseason it can often be seen as a desperation move, but the Flyers did not view the switch from Steve Mason to Neuvirth in that light.

"We had two No. 1 goalies," Simmonds said. "Anytime either one of them was in net, we were confident no matter who was there."

"He's been one of two very important players for us in net," Hakstol said. "He and Mas have done a good job as a tandem all year long. Neuvy did for us the other night exactly what he's done each night during the regular season. He goes in and provides that calm presence and gives us an opportunity to win each and every night."

Bellemare returns: Bellemare will return to the Flyers' lineup Friday after serving his one-game suspension. He was contrite on Friday when speaking about the hit to Orlov saying, "What happened was unfortunate and I got the consequences of it. ... This is like in the past now and just really happy that I get a chance to show that was not my last impact on the playoffs."

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz addresses Orpik's upper body injury

Quick Links

Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.

With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.



Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)

Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Central Division
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)

Pacific Division
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)