Capitals-Flyers: One Rival Down, Another On the Way into Town

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2009

Following an intense game in the win over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, and with another rivalry game scheduled for Tuesday night when the team hosts the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals made this morning's practice an optional skate.

None of the big names participated in order to give them time to rest up for tomorrow's big matchup.

"That's why we're out here doing very little today," said head coach Bruce Boudreau.  "Guys that need the rest are staying off the ice. Hopefully we'll be able to ramp it back up by tomorrow night."

Boudreau not only anticipates his team to be ready for the Flyers, but the fans as well.

"I expect [Tuesday night] will be the same as it was Sunday. It was like a lot of people had waited a long time for that game. They were pretty excited and when there is a lot of energy in that building it's quite a place to be."

"The only difference is that it's a different team," added enforcer Donald Brashear on the matchup with the Flyers. "Philly is a hot team and you want to beat them. You want to have back-to-back wins when you play back-to-back good teams."

One of the players who was key in the victory Sunday was forward Brooks Laich. His goal he scored from behind the Penguins goal line, was the team's fifth on the night and chased goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the game. It also marked his first goal in his last seven games and Laich knows that just getting a goal like that can do wonders for a player's confidence.

"It's more of a fluky goal," said Laich. "At the same time I was trying to shoot it and bank it off him. I was definitely happy when it rolled over the line." 

He added, "With goal scoring, I think it's a confidence thing. When you get one you're on the ice looking for one, and the next game your looking to score again. That's why your top goal scorers consistently score because they're always scoring and always looking for those opportunities. Hopefully more pucks will start going into the net.

"The second half of last year is when I really started to take off and score goals. So I'm going to try to keep doing the things I've been doing."

Special teams should once again play a big part in the upcoming game. While the Caps come into the matchup with the third best power play in the NHL at 24.1 percent, the Flyers are one of the best on the penalty kill. They rank eighth in the league at 82.9 percent, but they lead the league in shorthanded goals with 16. Captain Mike Richards has seven of those 16 goals, which is currently tied for the franchise record.

"They're the best at it," said Boudreau of the Flyers penalty killing. "They are one of the few teams where you are going to show video on how offensive they are, so you have to beware of doing certain things on the power play. Mike Richards is a master of anticipation, and so is [Jeff] Carter and [Simon] Gagne. It's a strength of theirs."

Brashear knows that he'll have to be ready for what should once again be a physical matchup with the Flyers.

"We are one of the most physical teams in the league," he said. "With Philly coming in, it's just going to be that much more. Sometimes you expect it to be a lot and sometimes it's not. But in general I think we can expect it to be physical."

"Points are getting really tight," added Laich. "The second half of the season teams are playing their best hockey. Points are hard to come by and we just have to make sure that we bear down and focus. Keep on the gas pedal with the last 20 games."


Capitals Notes

One day after Pierre McGuire was especially critical of the Caps' trash-talking towards Sidney Crosby on NBC's broadcast, Boudreau had this to say about the whole situation.

"I think he was the one that was doing a lot of the talking first. There was nothing different than what goes on every game between every team. When we were playing Tampa, there was a lot of talking between our bench and David Koci. But because it's Sidney [Crosby], people want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is. It's nothing. In every game in the NHL, people talk."

Boudreau said forward Viktor Kozlov would most likely miss his ninth straight game with a groin injury. However, Kozlov was out on the ice for 20-30 minutes this morning, which should be a good sign that he's getting closer to a return.


    Capitals Head to Vegas with DC Behind Them

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    Capitals Head to Vegas with DC Behind Them

    Sammi Silber
    via The Hockey Writers

    Introducing Flyers Fan Fridays

    Philadelphia Flyers logo
    Philadelphia Flyers

    Introducing Flyers Fan Fridays

    Broad Street Hockey
    via Broad Street Hockey

    Flyers Weekly Mailbag: Let the games begin

    Philadelphia Flyers logo
    Philadelphia Flyers

    Flyers Weekly Mailbag: Let the games begin

    Jamey Baskow
    via Philly Sports Network

    Conn Smythe: It Is Fleury's to Lose

    NHL logo

    Conn Smythe: It Is Fleury's to Lose

    Adam Gretz
    via ProHockeyTalk