Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Flyers

Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Tuesday, January 9, 7:00 pm

Broadcast Info: CSN, WTEM 980 AM; CW 57, WIP

Media Notes:
Gus Gus!
Washington Post
Washington Times
Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Inquirer

A hockey team called the Capitals...struck with a flu bug...and puck-related injuries. Freaky.

2006-07 Season Series: Caps 3-0-0, Flyers 0-3-0

2006-07 Standings: Caps 18-17-7, 43 points - 3rd in division, 11th in conference; Flyers 11-27-4, 26 points - 5th in division, 15th in conference

Last Game: December 16 in Washington, Caps won 4-1
- The Caps fell behind early in this one, as Mike Knuble scored at the 3:31 mark of the first period. The two teams played pretty evenly for most of the opening frame until Flyers' captain Peter Forsberg got a concussion after a check from Ovechkin at center ice sent him flying, hitting his head on Zubrus' knee on the way down.
- Zubrus would pull the Caps even with the Flyers in the last minute of the period with his 13th goal of the season.
- The Caps dominated the second period, outshooting the Flyers 13-4 in the middle frame. Semin gave the Caps the lead just over 5 minutes into the period, then added his second of the night about 3 minutes later to complete his 3 point night.
- Ovechkin put the game out of reach with the Capitals' fourth goal, his 22nd of the season, early in the third period. He had 4 shots on goal, which surprisingly was not the highest total on the team - that honor belonged to his countrymen and fellow Alex, who had 6 to lead all players on both teams.
- Alexei Zhitnik, acquired from the Islanders earlier that day, made his Flyers debut against the Caps. He would finish the night with -2 and just a shade under 22 minutes of ice time.
- The Flyers got only 22 shots on goal all night, which at the time was the season low for a Caps team that had routinely given upwards of 35+ per night.
- Although the two teams combined for 13 penalties, neither one was able to connect with the extra man - the Flyers were 0-for-6, the Caps 0-for-7.
- The game marked the 6th straight loss for the Flyers, tying what was then a season-high streak that would eventually top out at 11.

Things to Look for:
- The Flyers snapped out of their franchise record 11-game losing streak in decisive fashion, putting together three straight wins for the first time this year against Tampa Bay, Carolina, and the Islanders. Since then, however, they have again lost their captain to injury and have dropped three straight.
- Forsberg could be back in the lineup against the Caps if his season-long search for the right pair of skates is again successful. When Forsberg is not in the lineup, the Flyers have yet to win - so he should probably keep his head up.
- The Caps snapped their own 5-game losing streak with 2 straight wins and look to extend that to 3 against the spiralling Flyers, a team they have dominated so far this season.
- With a win tonight, the Caps will complete the season series sweep of the Flyers for the first time in franchise history.
- When allowing the first goal, the Flyers are 1-22-1 so far this season. When trailing after the first period, they are 1-18-0...when trailing after two periods, they are 0-22-1. Yikes. I think it's a fair assessment to say that the Caps should probably try to score first and/or take a lead into the locker room. Not that they shouldn't do that against any other team, but especially against the Flyers.
- Semin is coming off of back-to-back 2 goal performances, giving him 4 multi-goal games already this season; Zubrus and Ovechkin have also scored multiple goals in 4 different games. Semin's 10 multi-point games on the year trail only Zubrus with 11, and none other than the great #8, who has racked up an astounding 18 games with multiple points.
- The Flyers are the worst in the league in terms of goals allowed, averaging 3.74 goals against per game. They're second to last in goals scored with 2.40.
- The one bright spot for the Flyers continues to be their penalty killing, which has improved to 7th; the addition of Alexei Zhitnik has to be seen as one reason for the slight improvement on what was already a good PK unit. Meanwhile the Caps penalty-killing has dropped again to 21st, although their power play rose slightly, ranking 18th overall with an effectiveness of 17%.
- Tonight's game marks the end of a season-long 8 game road trip for the Flyers - their record through the first 7 road games is 3-4-0. The Flyers apparently prefer to play on the road, going 8-16-0 as compared to 3-11-4 at Wachovia Center. Can't say I blame them...
- Matt Bradley returns to the lineup after having surgery on a broken finger that sidelined him for 14 games. The insertion should give the Caps a little more physical presence and will hopefully seat Klepis in the press box. No offense to Jakub, but I'm looking forward to having Brads back.

Possible Lineup for the Caps
8-Alex "One and Only Keeper of THE Goal" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Now Only Misses Half the Time" Zubrus, 17-Chris "the Set-Up Man" Clark
28-Alexander "OT" Semin, 24-Kris "Nice Play, Nice Play...Damn it" Beech, 18-Matt "Princess" Pettinger
21-Brooks "We Like" Laich, 16-Brian "2 Going on 3" Sutherby, 27-Ben "November 4, Take 2?" Clymer
87-Donald "the Enforcer" Brashear, 15-Boyd "Killer" Gordon, 10-Matt "Pinhand" Bradley

2-Brian "Potsie" Pothier, 26-Shaone "the Avenger" Morrisonn
6-Jamie "Not-So-Scarface" Heward, 52-Mike "Babyface" Green
3-Lawrence "Larry" Nycholat, 44-Steve "Sweeeeeet Pass" Eminger

1-Brent "We Finish Each..." Johnson, 37-Olie "...Other's Sentences" Kolzig

Possible Lineup for the Flyers
12-Simon "Ironic Last Name" Gagne, 21-Peter "Porcelain" Forsberg, 22-Mike "Loves to Kiss and" Knuble
19-Kyle "Chicago Would Be an Upgrade" Calder, 17-Jeff Carter, 24-Sami "Mr. Motivational Speaker" Kapanen
27-Dmitry "Wash Your Dishes" Afanasenkov, 20-R.J. "Heads Up" Umberger, 55-Ben Eager "to Spear"
29-Todd Fedoruk, 61-Mike "I Miss New" York, 40-Eric Meloche

2-Derian "Tortoise" Hatcher, 6-Randy "Sloth" Jones
44-Joni "Molasses" Pitkanen, 77-Alexei "Ketchup Bottle" Zhitnik
45-Alexander "Traffic on a Sunny Day in Washington DC" Picard, 54-David "Traffic on a Rainy Day in Washington DC" Printz

30-Antero "Wannabe Mobster" Niitymaki, 42-Robert "Streaky" Esche

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