WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tonight’s hockey game will be brought to you by the letter D – as in “desperation.”
The Flyers arrived in town riding a two game skid and watched from the comfort of their hotel rooms as the Capitals coughed up a lead in Toronto Thursday and fell in regulation 3-2.
The Caps are an NHL-worst 1-5-1 to start the season, certainly an unexpected beginning to the career of head coach Adam Oates.
Needless to say, both teams need to win tonight – and badly.
“Every game you play you get a lot of the same [compete level],” said coach Peter Laviolette. “I don’t know how desperate Tampa was and they played a really good game against us and the same with the Rangers.
“Every game teams feel like they need to win points and there won’t be any easy ones. The days of the layups are gone. I know we’re going to try to be ready and I’m sure they’re going to do the same thing.”
Neither team can afford to continue to struggle and needs to turn around their outcomes immediately, so the anticipation is a high-intensity battle between two teams who find themselves at the opposite end of the standings then where they are accustomed.
Speaking of the upside-down standings, I know we’re only seven games into the new season, which means there is the equivalent to half a normal season left, but a quick glance at the standings on Feb. 1 would offer these Eastern Conference playoff matchups if the season started today:
No. 1 Boston vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh; No. 2 Tampa Bay vs. No. 7 Toronto; No. 3 New York Islanders vs. No. 6 Montreal; No. 4 Ottawa vs. No. 5 New Jersey
Four teams that weren’t in the playoffs last season including the Islanders (the first place Islanders! Did we time warp to 1981?) Pittsburgh an eight seed? No Flyers, Rangers or Capitals? NBC sports execs would have a conniption if this was how it would turn out.
Order should be restored by the end of April, but if there was ever a season where the standings had a chance to end up on their head, it would be one with just 48 games.
We’ll see, but it was odd to look at the standings this morning.
I have no official confirmation from Laviolette on the lineup tonight. But I venture an educated guess as to what the lines and defensive pairs will look like tonight:
How about this note in the New York post from columnist Phil Mushnick:
Is It possible for an NHL player to become a Lady Byng Memorial Trophy candidate — for sportsmanlike conduct — while in a fight?
Tuesday against the Rangers, Flyers’ right winger Max Talbot did a remarkably noble thing for which he received no credit from MSG’s Rangers announcers.
Talbot and Ryan Callahan began to fight. Suddenly, Talbot stopped, backed off and signaled to the Rangers bench for help. Clearly, Callahan and Talbot both stopped trying to punch each other because both knew Callahan had just hurt his shoulder.
Viewers couldn’t miss this remarkable scene, not live nor in multiple replays. It deserved emphasis from Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti, who otherwise tracked the hassle, start to finish. Yet, Talbot’s act went unspoken until, after the final replay, Micheletti managed, “I think he knew something happened to Callahan.”
He thinks? What else was Talbot doing, stopping to summon a waitress?
Not every day that Philly players get some love from the New York media. Never mind love for the player coupled with criticism of the hometown broadcasters for being so… so… trite.
Good job Mr. Mushnick.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37