WASHINGTON -- 7 goals one game, none the next.
Rob Zepp deserved much better, and really, the Flyers did too in this 1-0 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals tonight. After an ugly first 10 or 15 minutes, the Flyers played a pretty strong game against the hottest team in the National Hockey League, but a stingy Caps defense blocked a bunch of shots and limited the Flyers chances well.
It was an ugly hockey game for the most part, thanks to bad ice and maybe perhaps the fact that the Flyers scored all of their damn goals on Tuesday. The Capitals did a great job of clogging up the space in front of goaltender Braden Holtby all night, and it really limited the Flyers chances despite that fact that for the most part, Philly carried the final 40 minutes of this one in terms of possession and quality chances.
Several more thoughts and observations on the game:
- Rob Zepp was really fantastic, and this game would've been out of reach without him. He came up big a few times, and two come to mind immediately: a nice toe save on the penalty kill late in the second period with the building buzzing after a huge hit, and a one-on-one with Ovechkin in the first period.
- On the Capitals goal in the first period, it sure looked like the puck was offsides at the blue line before hand. NBC didn't show a closer angle so all we have to go off of is the live broadcast angle, and it wasn't definitive. But it looked offsides from the (albeit not great) angle I had in the press box and multiple people were saying the same thing on Twitter. Oh well. Mark Streit shouldn't have lost his Jason Chimera behind the net anyway. The tip in was too easy.
- That said, Ray Emery should still get the start on Thursday vs. Vancouver. The Zepp story is fantastic and he's playing really well, and if he keeps it up lets hope he gets a real crack to stick around long term. But let's not get carried away and talk about goalie controversies after three starts.
- The Flyers had plenty of chances tonight, and you have to give a lot of credit to Braden Holtby. He's played 25 games in a row for Washington and he certainly doesn't look tired yet. .935 save percentage in his last 18 games on that stretch, according to Frank Seravalli. Incredible.
- SO MANY CHANCES LATE IN THE THIRD. There's nothing else to add to this point other than loud screaming noises and frustration.
- Scott Laughton took a massive hit from Matt Niskanen in the second period (watch it here) and went right to the locker room afterward. He didn't come back for the third period and we'll share an update on his status as soon as we have one.
- Andrew D. will have the official scoring chance info for us tomorrow, but here's a guess: not many quality chances or secondary chances tight near the net (certainly not at 5v5), but the Flyers outchanced Washington at even strength in the second and third periods. The Caps did a very good job of blocking shooting lanes throughout though, so give them credit.
- The ice at Verizon Center is such total crap. Bad bounces all over the place. We know why: it's the Madison Square Garden effect, really. A busy arena with a nice, warm train station underneath. But no matter the reason, it hurts the game. Back when they were winning regular season Eastern Conference championships, the Capitals used this bad ice as an advantage. They were used to it, they were fast, and they had an impeccable home ice edge as a result. Tonight it wasn't an advantage for either side. Just a mess. Really jams up the game, especially in the neutral zone, and leads to bad hockey.