Sunday, July 29, 2007

Game Diary: Caps-Flyers

Caps @ Flyers 11/04/06
Capitals 5-4-4, Flyers 2-9-1
In goal: Brent Johnson (WSH), Robert Esche (PHI)
Watch along at home

So here's the backstory: the Caps have traditionally had a few teams that have simply owned them throughout history, regardless of the relative skill on each team in any given season. The Flyers have unfortunately been one of those teams, to the point that the Caps have gone winless in Philadelphia for almost ten years. Their last win in Philly was January 31, 1998, going 0-15-1 since. It seemed it would take some sort of miracle to break that curse...

Enter the miracle known as the record-setting craptacular season of the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers, a team that before the season was through would provide a platform for the Caps to exorcise not one but two demons and reset the history books. This game would prove to be the first of these two monumental occasions in the lifespan of any Caps fan.

Things to watch for include any mention of history, with some delightful historic footage sprinkled in. Also, keep an eye on the mystery that was Morrisonn's / Fleischmann's / Pettinger's goal. It was eventually credited to Morrisonn, but you make the call.


We have ourselves a true clash of the titans in goal tonight, with Brent Johnson taking on Robert Esche, whose save percentage is less than 84%. Ouch.

19:50 Locker mentions the empty arena: “lots of fans not too happy with the start to the season.” Sure, they were 2-9-1 at this point, but come on - when are Flyers fans ever happy?

18:30 Ovie draws a holding penalty against Pitkanen. Wait...a Philly defenseman too slow to keep up with Ovie? Weird. Joe B. and Locker mention that Philly really wants Pitkanen to step up as a leader. Well, maybe he will in Edmonton.

18:04 First shot on goal on the power play? Philly. Good start. We learn that the Caps power play is ranked 11th and Philly’s PK is ranked 9th. One of those rankings goes down dramatically before the end of the season. And if you don't know which one I'm referring to, you obviously haven't been paying attention to the offseason moves made by a certain GMGM.

16:07 Nice power play cycle (gasp!) ends with Muir taking a point shot, the rebound is collected by Ovechkin, curl, drag, goal. 1-0 Caps and the building is so quiet you can hear his happy yell.

15:20 Eminger, fresh off a night in the press box as a healthy scratch, really redeems himself with a beautiful turnover to Ben Eager. Emmy now owes Johnson a beer for bailing him out. But wait, Philly’s not done yet – here comes Forsberg...and there goes Semin for high-sticking Forsberg.

14:43 Tonight marks the return of the CBS line and thus the end of that ill-fated experiment I like to call “defenseman Ben Clymer makes CapsChick cry”. The CBS line may not have matched their outcome from the season before, but at least it gets Benny’s ass off the blue line. Literally.

13:17 REALLY ugly cycle by Philly in the Caps zone. Fans are yelling “shoooooot” – it helps if they have the puck first, kids.

• Ooh, Toyota Ones to Watch – here’s an ironic one for you: Zubie with 9 goals, which leads the Caps, and Forsberg with 9 whole points, which is tied for the most on the Flyers. Ouch.

12:45 A couple of defensive turnovers by the Caps (gasp gasp!) are followed by two sparkling saves by Johnny. Let me repeat that – two sparkling Johnny. Moving on.

11:23 Ovie tries to gain the zone and goes absolutely flying over Freddy Meyer IV, and offside no less. I have to do you get stopped by a Roman numeral guy? Shouldn’t he be sitting at a country club with a sweater tied around his shoulders, talking to a girl named Muffy?

9:37 Randy Jones takes a minor for elbowing Clark. Here’s a fun fact for you, courtesy of Locker – Jones went to Clarkson. As did Clarkie. As did Locker. Yes, Craig, we know you went to college, stop reminding us.

8:22 Pothier takes his 17th missed shot of the night, high and wide. Okay, that may be an exaggeration...but not by much.

7:27 Gagne breaks in and takes a gorgeous shot – and we’re tied. Ooh, Gagne’s workin’ the sweaty mullet, very nice.

7:07 Clymer whacks at a bouncing puck and somehow it goes in, 2-1. So...they answer a pretty goal with a fluky, hard-working goal. That’s what I like to call the “Caps Special”. Welcome back to the wing, Clymes - man, that was ugly.

6:51 Some discussion of the high-scoring CBS line, with Locker saying “they’re not gonna dazzle you with brilliant stick work, dekes – they’re a lunch pail bunch.” That’s for sure. Apparently the line “simplifies the game of hockey”. Well, big words confuse them.

5:31 Petty just demonstrated the skating through pylons drill for the crowd. Playing the role of the pylons for tonight? The Flyer defensemen. It’s really the role they were born to play.

4:04 The Flyers apparently want 21 year old Ruzicka to, and I quote, “get into some dirty places”. Ahem. I’m not even touching that one, make up your own jokes, people.

2:40 Grenier and Clymer are having a little chat at the faceoff. I bet they’re swapping recipes.

• Aw, Chief!! Hi, Berube.

1:36 Holy crap, Morrisonn gets a goal. Locker: “Esche didn’t pick it up until it was past him.” Yeah, teams tend to prefer that goalies pick those up before that. 3-1 for now until...

0:58 ...Ovechkin makes it 4-1. Wow. Clarkie literally stepped around a defenseman to create a 2 on 1 and Ovie buries it because...well, he’s Ovie. It’s what he does.

0:00 So the Caps bombard Esche with 8 whole shots and 4 go in. That’s math I like. Also a quick history note from Joe B. for those of you keeping track at home – the Caps haven’t beaten the Flyers in Philly since 1998. Wonder if that will change...

Esche out, Niitymaki in. Anyone surprised? Anyone?

19:41 Delay of game on Bradley. For the love of god, aim lower. The glass did not shrink on you, I promise.

18:41 Fleischmann got the Morrisonn goal but it was Pettinger, or so sayeth Joe B. and Locker. Confused? Me too.

16:52 Niitymaki is so far back he’s practically hiding in the net. Of course, I’ve seen the team in front of him so I can’t really blame him. I’d be hiding too.

15:42 Greenie yawns, stretches, and turns over the puck, leading to an odd-man break by Philly and an even odder bounce to keep the score 4-1. Mike, I really wish you would save the herbal enhancement for after the games, okay?

15:17 Kapanen takes out Gordon from behind, which is a bad idea because here comes Brash, followed by Grenier in to save Sami...and nothing happens. Kapanen gets the gate for holding. Holding? Oookay, sure. Why not.

14:06 Apparently Muir led all Caps defensemen in goals last year. Nothing to brag about – I could have led them in goals and I can’t even skate.

• A little Chief retrospective as we see Craig Berube in the only jersey he ever looked good in. Love it. Cue footage of a goal he scored against Philly, which incidentally was Hunter’s 1000th point. Love it more.

10:20 Calder takes an interference penalty – time for this stellar Caps power play to get to work! (Yeah, I can’t even type that with a straight face.)

9:18 Semin draws a high-sticking penalty on Richards, which is weird – I didn’t know he knew how to draw penalties, he’s usually just taking them. Good to see him branching out. So 5 on 3 for the Caps aaaaand...there’s the timeout. Good ol’ Hanlon, you could set your watch by him.

9:01 Zubrus misses a gaping empty net. Pothier shoots wide. Par for the course.

8:14 Wow, I’m so glad that Comcast doesn’t put penalty time up on road games. No pesky clocks distracting me from wondering how much damn time is left on the penalty. I’d much rather deal with Joe B. saying “90 seconds left...60 seconds remaining...12 seconds to go...” Much better.

7:14 About 12 pretty passes from Pothier during a nice little flurry from the Caps, but amazingly nothing hits the back of the net. It’s okay, goals are overrated.

3:50 Does Green forget he’s a defenseman sometimes? I think so. No, Greenie, it wasn’t a dream – you really do have to protect the goalie. Meanwhile, Clymer is playing better defensively as a forward than he ever did on the blue line - I’ll say it again, welcome back to the wing, Clymes!

• Olie’s dancing on the bench. Shake your groove thing, Olie! Always, always cracks me up.

0:03 As Ovie is breaking in Gauthier makes the mistake of lining him up for a huge check and ends up being the one who goes flying. (Remember? He’s the guy in the Flyers’ jersey hurtling through the air on those “Great Checks” compilation videos at Verizon, Caps fans. Good times.)

0:00 Still 4-1 Caps and it really makes you wonder what exactly happened to the Flyers...and also how we can bottle whatever it was and spray them with it next season.

19:31 Sutsy behind the net feeds a pass out front which is meant for Bradley but it bounces to Clymer, who buries it for his second of the night. Do I need to repeat that too? Clymer with his second goal of the night. Cue Twilight Zone music...and cue the mass exodus of Flyers fans who aren’t about to sit through another twenty minutes of this crap. Lucky for them I’m here to archive it for their reading pleasure.

18:10 Flash, how do you take a penalty for interference? You were on the ice for about 90 seconds this whole game. Way to earn that call-up.

17:44 So the Flyers have played eleven games at this point and already have lost five of those by 3 or more goals. Hang on, let that sink in...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, schadenfreude, thy name is Caps fans.

16:35 Flyers fans are booing but stop to insert a sarcastic cheer for Niitymaki, who just stopped a clearing attempt. Ah, I love Philly.

14:44 Yes! We have our first “he scampers into the zone”! Joe B., you’re the man.

13:20 Meloche with a laser to make it 5-2, screen courtesy of Steve Eminger. Emmy, do you miss the press box? I have a feeling a return trip could be arranged

• Ovie gives the camera his patented bedroom eyes as we return from commercial.

11:47 Johnny, don’t play the puck. Johnny, please don’t play the puck. For the love of god, Johnny, DON’T PLAY THE PUCK! *Sigh* Graceful.

11:10 Ready? Here’s the least terrifying 2 on 1 EVER – Clymer and Gordon. I think Niitymaki actually just yawned. (Oh, I kid because I love, boys...)

10:40 Clark off for high-sticking. Luckily the Caps have a 3 goal lead, Philly’s power play sucks, and I love Clarkie more than life itself, or I’d be a little pissed.

10:00 Did I mention Philly’s power play sucks? Yeah. It really does. It makes the Caps power play look like a powerhouse, and Flyer fans agree with me as the boobirds return. I’m not going to lie - it’s truly a sound that warms my heart.

8:45 Whoa, Johnny! Whoa. Just...whoa.

• Flashback to January 31, 1998 – the Caps beat the Flyers in Philly with Michael Pivonka providing the overtime winner. Since then the Caps are 0-15-1 in the City of Brotherly Love...gee, I think Comcast is trying to imply that some big historical record is about to fall. Could it be the longest losing streak in the league is about to come to an end? Let's not get ahead of ourselves...

7:58 Heward takes a high hit and absolutely loses his mind, clotheslining Meloche in retaliation. Jamie, our little goon. Meanwhile Joe B. and Locker digress into wrestling talk and collapse into fits of giggles. They’re like a very weird old married couple sometimes, aren’t they?

6:49 “Shoooooooot!” Ha! Miiiiiiiiiiss.

6:22 Muir takes a penalty to give the Flyers a 5 on 3, and this is the loudest the arena has been all night even with the booing. Let’s take bets on whether the Flyers score.

5:01 Umberger makes it 5-3. Okay, who had the over on that one?

4:21 Philly’s got momentum all of a sudden...56 minutes into the game. Squash it, boys, squash it. What’s that weird sound? Flyers fans cheering?? MAKE IT STOP!

1:36 Flyers pull their goalie and somehow the Caps don’t score.

0:00 Booooooo...seriously, it’s like music. 5-3 Caps as history takes a back seat to sheer Philadelphia suckitude. Now if only they could sweep the season series...but that’s a story for another day and another game diary.

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