Flyers

Flyers roll Capitals once again, look more and more like a 1st-place team

Flyers roll Capitals once again, look more and more like a 1st-place team

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The Flyers are looking like a first-place team.

They sure looked like one Wednesday night when they beat the Capitals, 5-2, at Capital One Arena to notch their season-best seventh straight win.

In fact, the Flyers looked like a top club all season against Washington. They went 3-0-1 in four matchups with the Capitals and won both road games by a combined score of 12-4.

Now, the Flyers (39-20-7) are only one point back of first-place Washington with 16 games left in the regular season for both teams.

Alain Vigneault's group is on a 17-5-1 run since Jan. 8, a stretch in which it owns wins over the Capitals (three), Bruins, Blues, Avalanche and Penguins — all top-seven clubs.

As the Flyers are right back in action Thursday night, so are the Capitals (40-20-6), who visit the Rangers.

• Washington manhandled the Flyers during 2018-19, winning all four matchups in regulation by a combined score of 18-9.

The Flyers are not the same team in 2019-20 and their regular-season series against the Capitals is case in point. The Flyers outscored Washington 16-8 and earned a point in all four meetings.

After going 10-16-2 within the division last season, the Flyers are 15-4-4 against Metropolitan foes this season.

That is awfully impressive.

• General manager Chuck Fletcher acquired forwards Derek Grant and Nate Thompson ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline for many reasons.

Depth and potential injuries were two of the biggest.

"We have been carrying 12 forwards for a while," Fletcher said Feb. 24. "They’ve played well but you always worry with 20 games to go if hockey happens, injuries and things like that. You just want to make sure you’ve covered everything off."

During the first period Wednesday night, James van Riemsdyk suffered a broken hand. Here's what it means for the Flyers moving forward (see story).

• Alex Ovechkin had no points through four games against the Flyers.

Over his 15-year career, it's the first time the Flyers have held him scoreless in one season.

• For the second straight game, 10 different Flyers recorded at least a point and five scored goals.

Kevin Hayes (one goal, one assist), Ivan Provorov (one goal, one assist) and Grant (two assists) had multi-point efforts, while Travis Konecny, Tyler Pitlick and Scott Laughton also netted goals.

Konecny matched his career high of 24 goals, Laughton set a new career high of 13 and the Flyers improved to 19-0-1 when Hayes registers a marker.

• Vigneault elected to go with backup Brian Elliott against the Capitals, saving Carter Hart for Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The decision worked out well as Elliott made 25 saves and earned both road victories over Washington.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby allowed 16 goals in four games against the Flyers.

• Tom Wilson fought two Flyers (see story). Anybody surprised?

• In the midst of their 13th back-to-back set out of 17, the Flyers host the Hurricanes Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers are 10 points up on Carolina in the Metropolitan Division and 2-0-1 against the Hurricanes this season.

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Canadiens head coach Claude Julien hospitalized with chest pain

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien hospitalized with chest pain

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien has been hospitalized because of chest pain, the team announced Thursday.

Julien is not expected to return to the bench for the Canadiens' best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Flyers. Assistant coach Kirk Muller will take over head coaching duties in the interim.

Julien was behind the bench leading Montreal in Game 1 Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Flyers beat the Canadiens, 2-1, while the series continues Friday with Game 2 at 3 p.m. ET.

Here is a statement from Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, via the team's official website:

Good afternoon. I'm here to inform you of the reason Claude Julien was not here this morning at practice. Claude experienced chest pain during the night. We immediately consulted our doctors and it was agreed to transfer him to the hospital by ambulance. He's presently there and he's undergoing tests to determine the exact nature of his condition. This has nothing to do with COVID.

We don't expect him to be back during this series against the Flyers. Kirk, Dominique [Ducharme] and Luke [Richardson] will share the responsibility, however, Kirk is the associate head coach and he will assume the responsibility of head coach until Claude's return.  

We understand that Kirk does not speak French, but these are exceptional circumstances and we're asking you for your understanding. Out of respect for Claude and his family, I will not answer any further questions about his medical condition.

The veteran coach led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011. The 60-year-old began his NHL head coaching career in Montreal and has been with the club for parts of seven seasons.

"There’s no doubt that there’s a deep bond and a deep respect because we know the jobs that we’re doing," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said about Julien before the series.

Vigneault, 59, also began his NHL head coaching career in Montreal. From 1981-83, Vigneault and Julien were teammates on the Central Hockey League's Salt Lake Golden Eagles.

"I didn't see him after the game," Vigneault said Thursday afternoon in a video interview following practice. "I've known Claude since I was 20, so we go way back, good friends. I'm going to reach out with him; I just found out the news, I want to say 20 minutes ago, just before jumping on the bus. I'm not aware of exactly what happened."

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Flyers Talk podcast: The good, some bad and what's ahead for Canadiens series

Flyers Talk podcast: The good, some bad and what's ahead for Canadiens series

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss the good, some bad and what's ahead following the team's tight Game 1 win over the Canadiens.

From the goalie matchup to something important to remember, let's dive in:

1:15 — Flyers fans were nervous in Game 1; that's a good thing

3:30 — Have the Flyers been the best team in the tourney so far?

5:00 — Biggest takeaways from Game 1, good and bad

9:15 — Did the Flyers get under Carey Price's skin?

15:20 — How concerned are we about that shaky second period?

19:45 — Joel Farabee, so impressive, so smart

 24:50 — What do we think about Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg and the defensive pairs?

 29:35 — Something to remember ahead of Game 2

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