Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gameday Preview: Caps vs Flyers

Please do not attempt to adjust your computer screens. The following is an honest to goodness gameday preview.

Who: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
When: Sunday, January 13, 1:00 pm

Broadcast Info: CSN-DC, 3WT Radio; CSN-PH; NHL Network (Canada)

Media Notes:
Caps' Website
Washington Post
Washington Times

(And for two of the only somewhat sensical takes on Ovie's new contract north of the border, check out the Winnipeg Sun and They look at the pros and cons through a non-biased microscope, which is more than we can say for any of the other trash out there. Bitter is not a nice color on some people.)

It seems odd to say that almost a week after the official halfway mark of the season, tomorrow's game really kicks off the second half. Long breaks and injuries have muddied the last two weeks and we really haven't seen the team we want to see coming down the stretch.

But starting with the matinee against the Flyers, the Caps will play seven games in twelve nights; five of them will be at home, broken up with a visit to Pittsburgh (...yay) and a return to the big TO. The walking wounded are starting to get healthy again and there's exciting news that captain Chris Clark could return as soon as tomorrow. The meaning? It's go time, baby.

This stretch also brings the Caps right into the All-Star break, the point of the season where teams start to evaluate their position and their assets, deciding whether they will be buyers or sellers at the February 26th trade deadline. This stretch for the Caps will almost certainly play a big part in that decision-making process.

So on to the looming matchup (an ominous NHL game #666) with our friendly foes from Philly. Visits from Daniel "the magical spearing midget" Briere are always entertaining and Martin Biron can make things interesting as well - but just days after locking up their All-Star superstar to a long-term deal, the Caps really need to watch out for the All-Star superstar the Flyers just locked up long-term, Mike Richards.

Richards has quietly risen to the top of almost every offensive category for the Flyers, and while he's cooled off a bit of late with only 1 goal and 5 points in his last 8 games he's always one to watch.

The Caps come into this game hot, winning four of their last five including two straight and picking up points in thirteen of their last seventeen games. The trick so far in their turnaround, though, has been stringing a bunch of wins together; they have yet to go on a tear longer than three games all year, and that's happened only twice. It won't be easy - the schedule isn't very forgiving in the next few weeks and they'll have to do it against some tough opponents.

But they can rest in July.

From now until the end of the season every game has to take on a level of urgency that they'll see in every team they face. The Flyers seem like a good place to start.

Derian the Barbarian
Team afraid to walk alone while Hatcher remains unleashed

Photo courtesy of AP/The Canadian Press
Philadelphia, PA - Derian Hatcher has never been the quiet, unassuming type. With a skating style some refer to as "lumbering" and others call "embarrassing", Hatcher has long been a slow, slightly dim throwback to the heyday of Broad Street Bullies. His willingness to drop the shoulder or the gloves has earned him a reputation as a tough guy, a list of enemies longer than Nixon's, and the ability to strike fear into even the most stalwart of opponents.

Sadly, the list of people who fear him may now include his own team.

Just last week Hatcher decided to bowl over an oncoming Leaf - only to take out fellow Flyer Joffrey Lupul. Lupul left the game and is out with assorted injuries, his date of return indefinite.

"Yeah, it's scary," Flyers' captain Jason Smith said. "I turned a corner too fast in the locker room the other day and he tried to club my kneecaps. I just barely got out of the way in time. The guy needs a choke-chain."

"My kids run and hide behind me when they see him coming," added Daniel Briere. "Of course, they're taller than I am so it doesn't help, but still..."

Small children hiding behind smaller adults is the least of his concerns. Hatcher is hardly able to get medical treatment for the boo-boos that need kissing, so afraid is the medical staff that he will attempt to pummel them. Coaches stand more than an arms-length away in case his temper should flare up or his abnormally large frame should flail out of control by accident.

Many of his teammates have enlisted the help of private bodyguards to protect them against their wayward defenseman, while others use only prayer and the fact that they can outrun Hatcher to avoid bodily harm.

"I had to hide in my equipment bag last week just to avoid him. Worst two hours of my life," said Briere.

"He threw a shoe at my head once. Luckily I'm well-padded up there but still...I had to change my underwear afterwards," admits Phlex, mascot for the AHL affiliate Phantoms and next door neighbor to Hatcher.

When asked if any disciplinary action would be taken against Hatcher for further attacks on his teammates and foam-headed friends, Senior VP Bobby Clarke simply smiled and shook his head. "When he went after Phlex, I loved it," Clarke replied.

Slapshot, the Capitals mascot, was unavailable for comment but is rumored to be hidden in a safe house pending the Flyers' departure from DC.


Anonymous said...

Clarke quote made me lol

Pookie said...

Poor Phlex!