Measuring Stick Match-UpPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Two old Patrick Division foes – the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers – square off at Philly’s Wells Fargo Center tonight, and this is one of those early season games that draws the attention of the hockey media around North America. The game will be aired on The NHL Network, and tonight’s Caps-Flyers contest has had plenty written and said about it already. Last season, the two teams met four times and more than 60 minutes of hockey was needed to determine a winner each time. Both teams have imported some new players since they last met on March 22 here in Philly, but those new faces don’t need much indoctrination into what the rivalry means. “It’s kind of the undercard to Washington-Pittsburgh, I guess,” says Caps winger Troy Brouwer, who was obtained in a June 24 deal with Chicago. “I’ve heard a lot about it. Last year all four games went to overtime so even that in itself can bring a rivalry, just two good hockey teams playing together. Like any other game that has this magnitude to it, I’m excited to play in it. The guys are energetic right now, they’re excited and it’s going to be a good game tonight.” In starting the season 5-0 for the first time in their history, the Caps have taken down three divisional foes and archrival Pittsburgh. After tonight’s game in Philly, Detroit (at home) and Vancouver (on the road) loom ahead. “They’re great measuring sticks right away,” says Caps winger Mike Knuble of playing upper echelon opponents early in the season. “We went into [Pittsburgh] and played a stronger game than what we had played, and played a good game the other day against Florida. But you’ve got Philly this week and Detroit back-to-back. “I think that’s’ a great test of the top teams in our league. It’ll be a fun week. And then you look at what happened after those couple of games, analyze what happened and see where you’re at. But we’re confident. We’ve played a lot of home games right now, but having a good game in Philly is a great test for your team.” The Caps have allowed just 2.2 goals per game through the first five games of the campaign, and goaltender Tomas Vokoun sports a 1.94 GAA and a .935 save pct. in his four starts. In their last three games, the Caps have allowed a total of just two even-strength goals. That’s good, because the Caps have seen little in the way of special teams time thus far this season. “One door opens and another one closes and vice versa,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “We’ve had a lot of chances to play five-on-five in situations with very tight games on the line and we’ve come through, played well at it. So it’s getting us to be hopefully better at that. We weren’t as good last year at it as we were in previous years, so it’s good to improve these things.” In eight career starts at the building now known as Wells Fargo Center, Vokoun is 3-4 with a shutout, a 3.24 GAA and an .899 save pct.
Assuming Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom plays in Friday night’s home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets – and there’s no reason to assume he won’t – the venerable backliner is slated to play in the 1500th game of his NHL career here on Saturday at Verizon Center. Only four NHL defensemen