Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Flyers

Washington Capitals (41-21-6, first in SE, third in EC)
Philadelphia Flyers (36-19-10, second in ATL, fourth in EC)

The Caps win in Nashville was one earned in blood.

After Matt Bradley left the ice surface wearing a "crimson mask," the Capitals seemingly turned up the heat and were able to leave Tennessee with a win. The game wasn't pretty, but Fedorov's overtime goal was and, once again, Alex Semin was the best Capital on the ice.

While the win in Nashville gives us plenty of reason to have faith in the team, the truth is one game does not represent a trend. The next two games for the Caps are against playoff-caliber teams, and if the Caps want to stay in the hunt for the top slot in the East they are must wins.

The Caps are only seven points behind the Bruins, and while many argue that the Southeast Division title is currently under assault, the case could be made that the Bruins' top slot is in even more danger. Washington and New Jersey both have as much a chance to catch the Bruins as the Panthers do in catching Washington.

So that's what makes tonight's game so important. Sure it's the Flyers, a hated rival and thorn in the Caps side, but more importantly, it's two points that bring the team ever closer to the 100-point mark. The Capitals don't need to worry about the bottom four teams at this point and who they might be playing, but rather worry about winning games and decide for themselves who they play in the first round.

Tonight's game will likely have a focus on special teams and creating traffic in front of the Flyers goaltender (rumored to be Biron tonight). Part of the Flyers game is to play rough and beat teams off their game plans. It happened to the Caps in December when they lost 7-1, and it could very well happen tonight if the Capitals don't take control of the game early.

Another factor, or nonfactor, in the game is the return of Daniel Briere. The Philly center has only played 12 games due to constant issues with his groin. A few weeks ago, he returned to action with the Flyers only to hurt his groin again, and tonight he hopes to return from that aggravation.

Tonight's game isn't going to be easy by any means, and with Carolina visiting on Saturday, it's either win both games, or see the division lead shrink yet again.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Technorati Profile