Flyers Notes: Caps will take on Flyers without Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin, skating against the Flyers' Nick Grossmann, has 10 goals this season.
Alex Ovechkin, skating against the Flyers' Nick Grossmann, has 10 goals this season. (ALEX BRANDON / AP)
Posted: November 02, 2013

The Flyers will catch a break Friday: Washington's superstar right winger, Alex Ovechkin, who is second in the NHL with 10 goals, will not face them at the Wells Fargo Center.

Flyers right winger Jake Voracek took a cautious approach to the news that Ovechkin would sit out with an upper-body injury.

"Obviously, he's one of the best players in the league and is a big part of their team, but I think they'll come in even harder," Voracek said after Thursday's practice in Voorhees. "Sometimes, when a team's best player doesn't play, they know they have to dig in even harder.

"We have to play like we did for the first half of last game and we'll be fine."

In the second half of Tuesday's game, the Flyers blew a 2-0 lead and lost to Anaheim, 3-2. They fell to 3-8, their worst 11-game record at the start of a season in franchise history.

"We have to play 60 minutes and play desperate," said left winger Scott Hartnell, who had his long locks cut and was sporting a short haircut just to "change it up" and perhaps change his luck.

Hartnell, still trying to regain his form after missing four games with a rib-cage injury, is looking for his first goal. He had seven shots in the loss to Anaheim.

The Flyers have wasted brilliant play from goalie Steve Mason (2.25 goals-against average, .928 save percentage), who is expected to make his sixth straight start Friday.

"He's been our MVP," Voracek said.

The Capitals are 5-7 and have lost two straight.

"They're a good team, with or without [Ovechkin]," coach Craig Berube said. "We prepare the same."

Berube put the Flyers though some hard skating drills Thursday, apparently trying to get them better conditioned for the third period of games. They have been outscored, 14-5, in the final periods.

"I think the third period is a mental thing. I don't think it's an effort thing," Berube said. "It's a mental thing that we need to get over."

Breakaways

Eric Fehr is expected to replace Ovechkin (minus-6) on the Capitals' first power-play unit. Ovechkin was hurt in Washington's 3-2 loss to Vancouver on Monday. . . . Erik Gustafsson was back with the top six on defense Thursday, paired with Kimmo Timonen. After sitting out the last game, Gustafsson will likely replace Andrej Meszaros, though Berube said he had not decided. . . . Claude Giroux (minus-7) will try to snap a 17-game goalless streak, including six at the end of last season.

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