Washington Capitals (2-0-0, 4 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (2-0-0, 4 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: Versus HD, TSN 2 HD
Radio: 610 WIP (internet stream), XM 207
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Japer's Rink
After two solid road games to start the 2009-10 campaign, the Philadelphia Flyers return to the friendly confines of the Wachovia Center this evening as they host the Washington Capitals. Both teams enter the game with 2-0 records and a hell of a lot of a lot of expectations.
The Caps are coming off two big wins. They kicked off their season last Thursday with a convincing road win in Boston, against a Bruins team that has high expectations of their own this season. The win was similar to the Flyers first victory in Carolina -- on the road against solid Eastern Conference competition. On Saturday in their home opener, they hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs and, led by (who else?) Alex Ovechkin, they dominated the Leafs for most of the game, earning a 6-4 decision. It wasn't all rosy though. Here's J.P. over at Japers' Rink following that contest...
Of course the team came out and laid an egg in the third period, a fact that's undeniable no matter how well they played and how many things they did right in the first two. After the game Bruce Boudreau said he hoped the team had learned "a cheap lesson" and that in the situation the team was in at the second intermission they needed to clamp down and focus on winning the game 6-1 rather than taking risks and trying to win 9-1. While the point is well taken, it's also worth asking, "shouldn't they already know that?"
Sounds a lot like the Flyers of a year ago, no? The Caps know they won't earn a win tonight in a hostile South Philly environment unless they play a full hockey game, and the orange and black should know that as well. Of course, they've got the crowd on their side, and considering the way the team has looked in the first two games (fans are damn confident, if you haven't heard), the Wachovia Center will be electric tonight for the home opener.
Ray Emery, James van Riemsdyk, Ian Laperriere, Mika Pyorala all make their Philadelphia regular season debuts tonight. They might not know what to expect this evening, but one player in Capital red knows exactly what to expect. His name is Mike Knuble, and he returns to Philadelphia tonight just a few months after leaving in free agency. It should be interesting to see if he has any extra jump in his step, although those Caps are an up-tempo bunch and Knuble probably seems like a slowpoke amongst them.
Questions to Answer
- How well do the Flyers contain Alex Ovechkin. He's off to a hot start -- league leading six points already -- and he's always tough to stop. Which defensive pairing sees him most (Pronger/Carle or Timonen/Coburn) and how successful are they in stopping him?
- The Capitals biggest weakness is their defense. Can the Flyers potent offense exploit the Washington blueline unit?
- Do the Flyers special teams play as well at home as they have on the road early on this season?
- Decibal level on the crowd?
Tonight's game is on Versus at 7 PM Eastern. As always, join us for the conversation (well, not me -- I'll be at the game) and LET'S GO FLYERS!