WASHINGTON — As they get ready to play the host Washington Capitals in a critical matchup Wednesday night, the Flyers’ confidence level has never been higher.
And with good reason. They have won a season-high six straight, all four lines are contributing, and the defense and goaltending have been excellent.
Oh, and since they returned from a 1-4-1 road trip after Christmas, they have been one of the NHL’s best teams and have statements wins against Washington (twice), Boston, St. Louis, Colorado, and Pittsburgh.
“We’ve been playing great as a team,” center Kevin Hayes said. “I think the guys in this locker room believe we can play against anyone, and [the Capitals] are one of the best teams in the league, so it’s a good game to see where we are.”
Left winger Scott Laughton said the Flyers “can’t look back on what we’ve done and all the success we’ve had in the last few weeks. We have to focus on this game. We’ve taken it one game at a time, and we have to continue to do that.”
The Flyers are three points behind the first-place Caps in the Metro race. Is this the Flyers’ most important game of the season?
“It’s a big game for both teams,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Both teams are fighting to get into the playoffs — and nobody’s got a check mark [signifying they have clinched a spot] right now. So there are two points to grab, and we’re going to do everything we can to grab them.”
Brian Elliott will face the Capitals’ Braden Holtby in a goalie rematch of a Feb. 8 game, won by the visiting Flyers, 7-2, in Washington.
Elliott, 34, is 15-7-4 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. Holtby, 30, is 24-13-5 with a 3.12 GAA and .898 save percentage.
In his career against the Flyers, Holtby is 13-6-8 with a 2.60 GAA and .912 save percentage. Elliott is 9-7 with a 3.16 GAA and .893 save percentage against Washington.