By Harvey Hoffman
The Flyers are in Washington tonight to play the Capitals, the sound you are hearing is the Metro Division recovering from earthquake damage.
Philly is now in 2nd place with 83 points, three behind first-place Washington, a point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers coalesced under the former Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, winning 10 games in February, more than Washington and Pittsburgh combined, and scoring 4.15 goals per game, the best offensive output in the NHL over that stretch. They could not have clicked at a better time as division-leading Washington stumbled on the road mid-month and Pittsburgh lost five in a row to end the month, allowing Philly to take over second.
Washington and Pittsburgh made moves for veterans chasing a first Stanley Cup. The Capitals brought in Ilya Kovalchuk, 36, who has a long friendship with his countryman Alex Ovechkin. The two have been enthusiastic about joining forces in Washington. After their first practice, Kovalchuk told reporters that they had dreamed of being NHL teammates since adolescence.
After having his $6.25 million per year contract terminated by the Kings in December, Kovalchuk scored 9 points in his first 10 games after signing with Montreal for the league minimum. The Canadiens parlayed Kovalchuk for a third-round pick while agreeing to trade him to a Stanley Cup-contending team. In Washington, he will chase his first NHL championship, adding depth to the Caps’ bottom six and power play.
“You get that little extra jump in you and you’re playing to get that opportunity to get in the playoffs and go far,” Marleau said.