Finally, a game against someone we really hate. A game that fans can get excited for. It’s been a while since we played someone that we really, really would love to beat.
The Capitals are in town tonight, but without Ovi. Yeah, that makes life a lot easier. He’s a one man wrecking crew, the only guy on their team that can just take over a game by himself. With him, the Caps are on a 9-1 tear, and sit 2 points behind us. This is one of those 4-point swing games that we need to win. Good thing we have a few games in hand, although I don’t want to rely on those.
We’ve had some good battles with Washington over the last few years. From Lupul’s Game 7 OT winner in 2008 to last years 8-2 ass-whooping in Laviolette’s first game, this has been one of the better non-divisional rivalries in the league. Both teams are fast, aggressive, and can score a lot. Both like to push the play, and create offense from anywhere. That’s what makes these games so much fun. Both teams want it so bad that they hit often, fight for every inch, and the final product is usually a thrilling game.
Remember that Mike Wise column a few years back, the one that got all of us pissed off. The one that lead to Flyers fans wearing Megadeth Security t-shirts. Back then, Wise whined about how physical the Flyers were, and how we pushed those Caps around, much to the fans delight. Since then, the Caps have toughened up, and become a better team. Last year they ran through the league, before falling apart in the playoffs. This year, I think they’re actually better than last. Last year, the Southeast Conference was extremely weak, as usual. I think it’s tougher this year, with the emergence of Tampa, along with the other teams being a notch better. In addition, Washington has dealt with a lot of injuries during the season. The fact that they are right on our heels is an indication of their resilience.
The players seem just as excited for this game as I am. Courtesy of Tim Panaccio’s weekly preview, here’s Sean O’Donnel’s take:
We have some big ones that we’re excited to get back into. It shouldn’t matter. You should play hard every night.
But these aren’t easy games to go [win]. I can’t remember the last time there’s been a buzz the day before, a buzz the day of the game and you could feel it in the building.
Maybe going into Boston or Washington in January being the last one. It’ll be fun to have to have a team that is right at our heels. We could use some of those. … To get those divisional games, those tough games, I think that is just what this team needs to get us back on track for the last 11 [games].
The players can try being as PC as they want, talking about showing up for every game, and coming to work every day. Sometimes, you just don’t have it. And we know it, and we’ve seen that lately. But this Washington game has the players psyched up and ready to go. Tonight, I expect a full 60-minute effort, a close game with a playoff atmosphere. I think both teams will come out fast, and the crowd will have no trouble getting into it. And if you’re still not hyped up, enjoy this:
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