New Additions Pay Off As Caps Rout Flyers 5-2
What a great start it has been to the 2011-12. The Caps came into Philly #1 in ESPN’s power rankings, brimming with confidence, and off to their best start ever at 5-0-0. After a workman-like dismantling of Florida on Tuesday, tonight’s game vs the Flyers was being deemed as a true early season test for the Caps as well as a preview of a possible Eastern Conference finals. What better way for the Caps to show that they are for real than a win at long-time rival Philadelphia?
The Flyers came out, um, flying, in the 1st period. They were all over the Caps as well as Tomas Vokouhn. He held strong however, and made some key saves early in the period, keeping the game tied at 0-0. The Caps eventually picked up the pace and got into the game after Philly’s initial burst. The Caps got early extra-man advantages but could not tally. They even got a 4 minute advantage on a high-sticking committed against Brooks Laich; it was quickly cut down to 2 minutes as Alex Ovechkin was called for interference soon after. During the 4 on 4, lazy stick-handling by Alex Semin set up a breakaway for Claude Giroux, who scored on a nifty juke at 14:25. I will be honest…the PP was terrible in the 1st period.
If you follow me on twitter, you saw my annoyance bubble to the surface. Seemingly, in a matter of a couple minutes, the Caps said “We’ll show you, buddy”. Matthieu “The Flying Frenchman” Perreault scored at 18:40 on a shot from the point that deflected off of a Flyer. This goal was scored solely because of the fore-check work done by Perreault and his linemates Matt Hendricks and Jeff Halpern. They were easily the line of the night. Played corners, blocked shots…just great work all night.
Less than a minute later, the Caps tallied again. Nicklas Backstrom beat two defenders to the puck in the corner, drove and took it to the goal, and after making the initial save, Ilya “The Fifty-One Million Dollar Man” Bryzgalov left a juicy rebound for Ovechkin, who put away the lay-up at 19:48 for his second goal of the season and 15th point in last 8 games vs the Flyers. Great work by Backstrom. 2-1 Caps going into the 2nd period.
The 2nd period mirrored the first in many ways, one of them not being goals scored. No tallies at all this period, and again the Capitals PP just could not get off. Of note, there was yet another high-stick committed on Brooks Laich. Should have been another double-minor against Philly instead of a minor, but the three blind mice did not see it that way. Seems like the Flyers were trying to perform plastic surgery on Laich tonight, but with hockey sticks and minus the anesthesia. Nice work from Hendricks blocking shots this period. On to the 3rd.
New addition Roman Hamrlik got the scoring explosion started at 2:23 with a pretty innocent shot from the point. The puck deflected off of a Flyers stick, but it got Hamrlik off the schnide. His 1st goal as a Cap, 3-1 good guys. After a tripping penalty on “Chrissie” Pronger (don’t tell him I called him that), the Caps tallied again…and it was a PP goal! A laser by Ovie off an assist by Backstrom, Bryzgalov beaten again. I cannot describe to you how quickly Ovie got this shot off, even with a guy in his hip pocket. The Gr8 may be heating up folks, 3rd of season, 4-1 caps.
The scoring did not stop there. A bit over a minute later, Joel “Soul Brother #1” Ward scored his first goal as a Cap. It was exactly the kind of goal George McPhee signed him for. Set up in front of the goalie, use that big frame to screen and deflect shots from the point. This one came off of a shot from defenseman Jeff “Sargent” Schultz. 3 goals in 2:25 made it 5-1 Caps and sent many Flyers fans home. The Flyers got a late goal with 15 seconds left in the game, but by then the Caps were thinking about postgame beers.
Great game all around. The PP needs to get in some more work, but overall I cannot complain. Vokuhn was rock solid, as was the defense (Philly’s offense was red-hot coming into tonight’s game). That really is all I care about with the Caps. They will always score, but defense, like in every sport, wins championships. On to the next. Huge game vs Detroit on Saturday. Go Caps!