The Verizon Center had better be home, sweet home after the nightmare the Washington Capitals just experienced on the road this week.
Two leads after two periods, two regulation losses to show for them. Even worse, zero points, leaving the Caps dead last in the NHL. Yes, we’re only seven games into the season, but it’s a shortened season and… Well, I’ll just let a professional explain it:
Fortunately, the Caps are playing host to one of the few NHL teams that has almost matched them in the disappointment column, the Philadelphia Flyers. Everyone figured that the Flyers would score goals, they just might have trouble keeping the other team from scoring too.
Except it hasn’t turned out that way at all so far. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has been surprisingly excellent, sporting a 2.19 goals-against average. But somehow, despite having someone who looks a lot like Claude Giroux suit up for every game, Philly has the worst offense in the East.
Caps fans can only hope that Adam Oates has a similar trick up his sleeve before the chorus of “What’s wrong with Alex Ovechkin” queries becomes deafening. Ovi did manage to find the net for the second time in 2013 Thursday night against the Maple Leafs, but he’s a long way from looking like his old self. Mike Ribeiro (7 assists) and Joel Ward (4 goals) have carried the offense while Ovechkin has spent a lot of time skating with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb in a combo that even the NHL 13 automatic line maker wouldn’t put together.
Meanwhile, Braden Holtby will get the start in net despite not looking too hot in his first two starts this season. He has been excellent the two times he’s faced the Flyers in his career, and Michael Neuvirth (37 saves on 40 shots on Thursday) is due for a rest after five straight starts. Also some therapy, perhaps, after facing down the horror of eight Toronto power plays in the first two periods.
So to sum up, it seems like all the Capitals have to do tonight is keep the Flyers from getting comfortable with their new lines, find a way to get pucks past Bryzgalov, figure out how to get Ovi going, stay out of the box, and protect Holtby until he settles in.
Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Start time: 7 pm EST
TV: Comcast SportsNet-Philadelphia (Flyers), Comcast SportsNet-DC (Capitals)