Saturday, 10.03.2009 / 7:00 PMCAPITALS (2-0-0) at FLYERS (2-0-0)
The teams split their four games last season, each winning once at home and once on the road. Washington won a pair of one-goal games, including one in a shootout at home. The Flyers won the only blowout, a 7-1 decision Dec. 20 in Philadelphia highlighted by Scott Hartnell
's hat trick.
Flyers goalie Ray Emery has been nearly unbeatable in his first two games back in the NHL, stopping 52 of 54 shots in wins against Carolina and New Jersey. Washington, led by Alexander Ovechkin, has a League-best 10 goals in its first two games.
The Capitals have exploded out of the gate offensively, but their defense was an issue Saturday. After taking a 6-1 lead on Toronto, they had to hold on for a 6-4 victory. "I was once told that anytime you win, you shouldn't complain because there's so many times you lose," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I told the guys that it was a great win and a great start, but that we have to learn how to win 6-1 when we are in this position and not think we are going to win 9-1. I can preach about, which we do, but you've got to be committed to do that. But I think we have the group of leaders in the room to make that happen."
While Emery has been good in net, he hasn't had to work all that hard. Among teams to play more than once, Philadelphia has allowed just 54 shots, fifth-fewest in the League. Much of that can be attributed to a puck-control offense and a defense led by Chris Pronger
, who has played more than 25 minutes in each game. Also, five different players have goals, and 13 have at least one point.
Who's Hot --
The question facing Flyers rookie forward James van Riemsdyk
was if he could handle the jump from the NCAA to the NHL. Through two games, it hasn't been a problem as the 6-foot-3, 200-pound left wing has a team-high 3 points, all on assists. Jeff Carter
, who finished second to Ovechkin in goals last season, already is hot on his tail with 2 goals so far. While Ovechkin dominates the headlines, Brooks Laich has 3 goals and 5 points in two games.
Injury Report --
Emery likely will start in goal again Tuesday, but expect to see backup Brian Boucher
at some point during the three-game homestand that starts against the Caps. Boucher has yet to play this season due to a lower-body injury suffered during training camp. The Caps have a fully healthy squad.
Stat Pack --
Ovechkin was held scoreless in his first two games against the Flyers last season, than had a goal and an assist in each of the final two games. His 2-2-4 line was his worst against an Eastern Conference foe. Carter's 7 points against Washington last season was the second-most he scored against one team.
Puck Drop --
Mike Knuble was one of the more popular players in Philadelphia during a four-season run that saw him score 110 goals and play all 82 games three times. That ended when he signed in Washington this summer.
"I can say try to treat it like it's another game but there's some history there," Knuble said. "I'm looking forward to trying to get a win there. As a player you just want to play well and do your best to try to win the game. It's no secret, you want to play well every game, and in certain ones stand out a little more."