Pathetic was the effort the Caoitals put forth on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils. A game that could have pulled them within 4 points of 7th place, instead made them seem miles away from being on the level of the true Stanley Cup contenders. The Caps power-play was again terrible and gave up more short handed odd man rushes, and generated no kind of offense. Johan Hedberg shutdown the Caps in the Devils crease, after a fantastic early save on Troy Brouwer in was pretty much a rocking chair night for Moose. The Caps could not respond to the early Devils push, and Michal Neuvirth was shaky at best in net. All in all one of the most disappointing performances of the year by the Caps.
Tonight the Caps welcome the Broadstreet Bullies more specifically the Philadelphia Flyers to DC. The teams have met twice this year and each pounded the other on the road. The Caps went up to Philly and grabbed a 5-1 win back during the 7-0 start to the year, an the Flyers beat the Caps down 5-2 at Verizon Center in December. Both teams have been disappointing in their past ten games the Caps are 4-6 and the Flyers are 5-5. This is the middle game of the Capitals 5 game home-stand they're currently 1-1 and really must win these final 3 games, as the road that follows is extremely brutal.
The Flyers come in tonight with a roster that has some scary talent on it. Their forward group includes a lot of big highly skilled forwards like Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and James Van Riemsdyk mixed with smaller high skilled forwards like Danny Briere, Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux. The Caps defense will have there hands full tonight and if they don't perform beter the Flyers wil do to us what the Devils did maybe even worse. The Flyers also have a defensive core of big powerful defenseman guarding a net that has 2 very quality goaltenders to man it. The Flyers bring in one of the most complete teams in the NFL hard to find any holes on this team to exploit.
The Caps will see some changes to their roster tonight, as veteran Mike Knuble will return to the lineup and Keith Aucoin will be a healthy scratch. And with Tomas Vokoun out with a lower-body injury the Capitals have recalled goalie of the future candidate Braden Holtby from Hershey. The Capitals will need Knuble's leadership and they'll need his net front presence tonight. They also need some of their high paycheck players to start coming through like Joel Ward and Brooks Laich. Brooks Laich seems to have lost his game since signing his 6 years $27 million dollar contract this past off-season, and he was absolutely terrible on Friday night. Laich is a guy who most see as a leader on this team but he is becoming just another overpaid miss by general manger George McPhee on this current roster. If the Capitals are to make the playoffs tonight's game must be a starting point of them turning things around and being competitive against top teams.
The Capitals currently sit at 9th in the Eastern Conference standings with 69 points. They're 1 point behind Winnipeg for 8th, and 3 points behind Florida for the Southeast Division lead. However Tampa Bay and Buffalo sit just 1 point behind the Caps and Toronto s just 2 points back so the Caps need a win or they're slide in the standings will continue. The Flyers enter play in 5th place in the conference with 77 points.
The goaltending matchup tonight will see Michal Neuvirth makes his 5th straight start for the Caps. Neuvirth has 1 career win in 3 starts against the Flyers, and saw some action against them earlier this year replacing Vokoun in the loss in DC. For the Flyers veteran Ilya Bryzgalov will take to the crease Bryzgalov has beaten the Capitals twice in 4 career starts against them.
PLAYERS TO WATCH TONiGHT:
Ilya Bryzgalov G, Philadelphia = Brizzy was fantastic in net the last time these2 teams met and I would expect nothing different tonight.
Mike Knuble RW, Washington = Look for the veteran to try to reclaim an everyday spot on this roster with a strong game tonight.