CAPS GAME NIGHT: Looking For Revenge Against Philly

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, January 06, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (26-11-3, first in Southeast) host the Philadelphia Flyers (21-10-8, second in Atlantic) in a very important Eastern Conference showdown tonight at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

As fabled television broadcaster Keith Jackson would say, "These two teams just plain don't like each other." Well, the rivalry on the ice may not be quite as dramatic as the rivalry between the two groups of fans, but it's getting there.

Consider the respective places in the Eastern Conference standings: the Caps sit in second at 55 points, trailing only Boston with 62; the Flyers are tied with Montreal for fourth with 50. So proximity breeds contempt.

Add in the Flyers seven-game victory over the Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, with Jeff Carter skating around the Verizon Center ice after the handshakes "saluting" the DC fans, and the 7-1 pasting by the Flyers in Philly on Dec. 20 (the Caps last loss), and you've got the makings of an old-fashioned donnybrook.

Washington is the owner of the East's best home record at 17-1-1, and the Flyers would like nothing more than to blemish those pretty numbers.

The game also features the two players tied for the league lead in goals: the aforementioned Carter for Philly and Alex Ovechkin, the reigning MVP, coming off being snubbed for a starting spot in the NHL All-Star game.

Ovie has 13 goals and five assists in his last 12 games.

Jose Theodore, on a personal five-game winning streak, will start tonight's game for the Caps in goal.

Philadelphia is completing a six-game road trip and is 2-2-1 on the trip. They split shootout losses over the weekend, beating Anaheim Friday but losing to Los Angeles Saturday.

For once, the Caps meet a team that has as many injuries as they have had this season. The Flyers will be without starting goalie Antero Niittymaki, who was a stone wall the last time the two team played, stopping all but one of the 48 shots against. Marin Biron (7-2-2, 3.21 in his last 11 starts) will be between the pipes.

Also missing tonight will be Joffery Lupul, Daniel Briere and Claude Giroux. Arron Ashram is questionable.

WAS: PP-5th (23.2%, 38/164); PK-21st (80.4%, 36/184)
PHI: PP-2nd (25.8%, 39/151)' PK-13th (82.3%, 35/198)

WAS: D John Erskine (Concussion-IR); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT); C Sergei Federov (Ankle-IR); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR); Tomas Fleischmann (Pneumonia-OUT)

PHI: G Antero Niittymaki (Groin-IR); D Derian Hatcher (Knee-IR); RW Arron Asham (Knee-Questionable); C Daniel Briere (Groin-IR); LW Simon Gagne (Shoulder-Questionable); RW Claude Giroux (Concussion-Out); LW Josh Gratton (Abdominal-Questionable); LW Jonathon Kalinski (Leg-Questionable); RW Joffrey Lupul (Abdominal-IR; LW Darroll Powe (Hip-Questionable)