Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two Down; Fourteen To Go

I fired up the internet this morning ready to write about the Flyers thoroughly satisifying triumph last night. I ended up wasting much of the morning reading Mike Wise’s hilariously fulfilling commentary in the Washington Post. It makes one wonder if he’d ever seen an NHL play-off game. There are just so many good parts: agonizing over the loutish fans, calling the Flyers’ thugs, pleading with the NHL to intervene- to simply do something, anything!
For most of the evening, there was this unmistakable air of testosterone coming from the Flyers' direction that just reeked of physicality, a way of exerting their mauling style on the Capitals that just sent their denizens into some medieval state of euphoria.

"We want to make it physical between the whistles," Flyers Coach John Stevens said. "I think it's important for no other reason then it's the best tool we have to defend, to be honest with you. I think it's very important that we move our feet and finish our checks and get people pushed off the puck."

Translation: "We will keep punking the Caps until the NHL commissioner tells us not to."
I like this too!
Did we mention they show fights on the video scoreboard every period here, more than most arenas show dunks in the NBA?

Something about this R-rated environment is just not conducive to Ted Leonsis' Family Pack Night or Ovie on Ice. The contrasts are so stark and revealing.

The Caps' postseason slogan: "Rock The Red." The Flyers? "Vengeance Now," which comes across as less of a slogan and more of a sequel to Charles Bronson's "Death Wish."
What an ass.

Look, while they’ve surely been a bunch of turtles so far (I think that picture to the right is in fact the Caps' defense emerging from the locker room), the Capitals are far from done here. The Flyers picked up another key injury on defense. They’re still very shaky back there at the best of times. And the Caps are a mere one road win from pretty good about things. Frankly, it isn’t like they can play either more scared or much worse.

But Washington has got problems. They were run out of the rink last night. The Flyers' coach is making his counterpart look bad. Huet stinks- and is getting worse.

As I wrote after Game 1, every Philadelphian looks at the Caps and totally gets their situation. It is the Allen Iverson Sixers all over again- a bunch of role players who need the stars’ jump to get them going. Part of why the Caps can’t get anything from their other lines is they don’t play them. Ovechkin is seemingly logging 26-27 minutes a night? He doesn’t kill penalties- so it honestly seems he plays all the time otherwise. Maybe they have no other option- but you can’t scream about contributions from secondary players if they get twelve, thirteen minutes of ice a night- mainly on special teams.

The Flyers have been chippy and aggressive- but blaming them for refusing to skate with Capitals seems kind of dumb. Plus, in case you missed it, Briere and Prospal are skating with them like crazy.

Watching the Flyers defense "cling" to their assignments like, well, they are bitter about something, I still think the series goes deep. Even with Hatcher dressing again, the injury to Kimmo Timonen is a hard nut. I’ve been all over Hatcher from the get-go in Philadelphia. But, his surly manner helps here and his plodding manner doesn’t hurt that much. Heck, nobody on the Flyers defensive corps can skate with these characters- so we might as well be strong on the puck, in the corners and in front in our own end.

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