Friday, April 18, 2008

Game 5: Flyers @ Caps

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

After losing Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series, the Caps had a choice - they could get busy livin' or get busy dyin'. Knowing these Caps, there was never a choice at all, and you can expect one of the team's best efforts of the season tomorrow afternoon at Verizon Center.

Thursday night was a turning point for these young Caps, whether it manifests itself in a win Saturday or not. But don't take my word for it - here's the boss:
Our team is bigger and tougher than the Flyers. They know it now and we know it now.

We now know how to play playoff hockey, NHL style.
From the top down, they're saying all the right things, and they believe every word of it.

In theory, at least, the mountain standing before the Caps at present isn't unscalable - win at home (where they were 23-15-3 this year), win in Philly with all the pressure in the world on the Flyers to close out the series at home (where, incidentally, the Caps have won four of their last six games), then come back home and finish the series with a victory over a similarly young team in the midst of an epic collapse.

In practice, of course, that's much easier said than done. Only twenty times in NHL history has a team come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series (the Caps have been involved in four of those series, including 1988's comeback win against the Flyers) out of 219 such situations.

"Twenty?" defenceman Steve Eminger asked on Friday. "Why not 21?"

Indeed.

But win or lose, the Caps will look back on Thursday night as something of a coming of age. Win or lose, this Flyers team has provided the perfect playoff baptism for these Caps. They do a lot of what you need to do to win in the playoffs, and they've exposed precisely the "right" Caps weaknesses. Had the Caps met the Penguins or Canadiens in the first round and fallen short, they'd probably be able to convince themselves rather easily that they were out-skilled. But this Flyers team - through three games - showed the Caps that they were being out-worked and out-muscled. And come springtime in the NHL, it's those latter attributes that are the far more valuable to possess.

This series is far from over. Or perhaps the end is nigh. But coming back from a 3-1 deficit isn't impossible, despite that 20-for-219 number. To put that stat in apples-to-oranges perspective, the Beatles recorded 214 songs from 1962 to 1970 and had 20 Number One singles. In other words, the Caps have about as much chance of winning this series as Lennon/McCartney had of writing a chart-topping single in their prime.

Sounds pretty easy now, doesn't it?

DSB

62 comments:

Soulie said...

Hey, the Sox came back from 3-0 against the Yankees. I've seen it all.

Honestly, I just want a win tomorrow. This team has reminded me why I love hockey and why I have season tickets.

Brunella said...

You said all right things, my friend. Thank you. Thank you.

theshawn said...

I second brunella - love the Beatles reference. Go Caps! Believe! And for goodness sake, please clear the zone.

ToddM said...

Just give me something to believe....

pplc said...

Steve Perry has kind of a girlie body in this clip.

I'll show myself to the door now.

hotdog88gt said...

Enough talk! CAPS IN SEVEN!!!

Ben said...

LOL @ Journey being the Caps' rallying cry. Is Ovechkin just a small town girl living in a lonely world?

Had the Caps met the Penguins or Canadiens in the first round and fallen short, they'd probably be able to convince themselves rather easily that they were out-skilled. But this Flyers team - through three games - showed the Caps that they were being out-worked and out-muscled. And come springtime in the NHL, it's those latter attributes that are the far more valuable to possess.

That's very nicely put. Playing the Flyers makes you a better team. I think the team who beats the Flyers in the playoffs has an incredibly high winning percentage in their next series. I'm too lazy to calclulate it, though.

Ben said...

Just to reduce some fractions, 20 out of 220 is 1 out of 11, or 9%. I think that makes the Caps chances sound better.

Not to mention that two of the three they need are at home.

It's not in the books yet, sad to say.

Ogre said...

Isn't the series really 1-2-1? (The extra 1 that the Refs gave away?)

I want a win. I really do. But no one thought we'd be this far. It's not over yet, and I'm happy.

Ben said...

As far as playing the Flyers making teams stronger, I did some checking on how teams who got past the Flyers did in the next round since 1995. Bold means the team won their next series. In italics means they lost their next series in seven games.

2006: #4 Buffalo d. #5 Philadelphia R1 4-2
#4 Buffalo d. #1 Ottawa R2 4-1


2004: #1 Tampa Bay d. #3 Philadelphia East Finals4-3
#1E Tampa Bay d. #W6 Calgary Finals 4-3


2003: #1 Ottawa d. #4 Philadelphia R2 4-2
#2 New Jersey d. #1 Ottawa East Finals 4-3


2002: #7 Ottawa d. #2 Philadelphia R1 4-1
#4 Toronto d. #7 Ottawa R2 4-3


2001: #5 Buffalo d. #4 Philadelphia R1 4-2
#6 Pittsburgh d. #5 Buffalo R2 4-3


2000: #4 New Jersey d. #1 Philadelphia East Finals 4-3
#4E New Jersey d. #2W Dallas Finals 4-2


1999: #4 Toronto d. #5 Philadelphia R1 4-2
#4 Toronto d. #8 Pittsburgh R2 4-2


1998: #6 Buffalo d. #3 Philadelphia R1 4-1
#6 Buffalo d. #7 Montreal R2 4-0


1997: N/A Philadelphia loses in Finals

1996: #4 Florida d. #1 Philadelphia R2 4-2
#4 Florida d. #2 Pittsburgh 4-3


1995: #4 New Jersey d. #2 Philadelphia East Finals 4-2
#4E New Jersey d. #1W Detroit Finals 4-0


Interesting, eh? It bodes well for the Caps. If they make it by the Flyers, history says they win at least three more games in their next series.

Ben said...

http://flyers.nhl.tv/team/launch.htm?hlp=8473563&event=PHI64

You can hear Ovechkin scream "Fuck You!" at the Flyers fans after this assist. Very uncharacteristic. He must have been incredibly frustrated.

Bowler said...

"Very uncharacteristic." I dunno, Ben. Maybe very human.

JP said...

Bit of a stretch, too. "F you" and "F yeah" are pretty close, as are around a million other exclamations in English and Russian.

Ben said...

Oh it's definitely "Fuck You!" He turned toward the glass to scream it. I cannot blame Alex at all for screaming it, what with the constant chants of "Fuck Ovechkin" raining down.

It's uncharacteristic of what I've seen of Ovechkin before Game 3 of this series. He was always sort of a kid who just really seemed to be having the time of his life every time he stepped on the ice.

The Philly fans got under his skin.

Ben said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFy_vzvsHVU

You can't argue about Jurcina

JP said...

Don't sprain your shoulder patting yourself on the back. If anything got under his skin, it was the Flyers themselves.

And if you haven't seen him play up to the fans before, check out clips of him playing in Buffalo after the Briere incident. He feeds off the "villain" role - it certainly doesn't negatively impact his play.

Interesting stuff on the after-Flyers series. The way they play, it's surprising that teams aren't drained and don't go out meekly in the following round. Guess the Flyers battle-test 'em.

JP said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFy_vzvsHVU

You can't argue about Jurcina


Or Erskine.

Ben said...

Interesting stuff on the after-Flyers series. The way they play, it's surprising that teams aren't drained and don't go out meekly in the following round. Guess the Flyers battle-test 'em.

It also shows that the Flyers don't lose to teams that aren't totally legit.

Normally I'd agree with you about Ovechkin being more frustrated with the Flyer D than the Flyers' fans, but that outburst was aimed at both.

I'm not patting myself on the back this time--I wasn't at either Game 3 or Game 4, can't take any credit. But I will be there today in less than four hours. If I can manage to get Ovechkin to scream "Fuck You" at his home crowd, then I'll sprain my shoulder :)

Ben said...

Oooh cool my Audible Ovechkin Obscenity (try saying that a few times fast) clip got picked up by 700 level!

Thanks for the platform, JP.

If the Flyers make it out of Round 1, I should start up a Flyers blog. There seems to be a dearth of decent ones out there.

Anyone know of any worthwhile existing ones (not including message boards)?

b.orr4 said...

After Briere first goal in game one (the one where he came out of the penalty box to get a breakout pass), he came flying over to the section next to the box to give it to a fan who had been mercilessly taunting him. So, yes players do hear what fans say. And it can motivate them.

Scott said...

There is really only one song that I could send to Ovie right now. From the Karate Kid:

Try to be best
‘Cause you’re only a man
And a man’s gotta learn to take it

Try to believe
Though the going gets rough
That you gotta hang tough to make it

History repeats itself
Try and you’ll succeed

Never doubt that you’re the one
And you can have your dreams!

You’re the best!
Around!
Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down
You’re the Best!
Around!
Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down
You’re the Best!
Around!
Nothing’s gonna ever keep you dow-ow-ow-ow-own

Anonymous said...

Its Over boys, today or Tuesday does it really matter? The Caps gave you 1/2 of a good season and a lot of hope for a great season next year.
Nighty Nite.

Haazardous said...

Another anonymous post of bullshit. Sweet.

Hey, can NBC be a little LESS biased? Holy crap.

Hazardous said...

Oh wow. 36 seconds in and we're already raped up the ass.

Facing 10 guys on the ice again.

dmg said...

Yeah it's weird that people come and post on other teams blogs...I can't imagine ever going and posting insults or "smack talk" on a Flyers blog.

Anyways what is also weird is that when Eminger gets his legs chopped out from under him after the play it's Semin, not Erskine, who has to play the role of enforcer.

Hazardous said...

What a period of hockey. That's all that needs to be said.

But I'll say more anyway! This is the team we've been waiting to watch. I think they finally realize they're better than these scumbags.

Scott said...

Yeah anonymous! Keep on boosting your self-esteem over here! Anything else we can do to make you feel better about yourself? just let me know!!

Man that first period was awesome...that's the Caps we know. Keep it up boys!

dmg said...

22 hits in one period

dmg said...

If anyone tries to claim there's a conspiracy in the NHL to get Ovechkin further into the playoffs, that call on Fedorov should be point #1 in the argument against them.

Scott said...

That and the dead whistle on the power play with the puck clearly alive...

Suspect Reffing is back!

Scott said...

GAME! ALRIGHT CAPS!!!!!!!

JP said...

No handshake.

Not today.

Not in our house.

Btw, I have lost all faith that NHL officiating can even be consistent, much less good (and I mean that both ways today - awful calls/no calls for each team).

grapejoos said...

I will take it. Fedorov's penalty was SO WEAK. I don't know what these refs are doing. I thought the penalty on the Flyers for interference was pretty weak too, in fairness. But whatever, I'll take the W. All the pressure is on the Flyers now to win at home.

I gotta say, I don't understand the F Ovechkin chants in Philly. Are you guys really that bitter? It's not like he's Claude Lemieux in Detroit or anything. I smell a breakout game for Ovie on Monday (but he needs to drive it wide on the breakout instead of launching the same snapshot from the top of the circle every time.

Great games by Fedorov, Poti, Semin, et al. Even Kozlov played well at times. Brashear continues to be a force; other than the mental breakdown by Cooke, the checking lines were superb yet again.

Focality said...

NBC presentations (70s era music) and the goobers they've got "analyzing" games=fail.

Two more games. Caps in 7!

Scott said...

@ Grapejoos - it is the city of brotherly love, no?

Marco said...

Not dead yet.

JP said...

Am I the only one who thinks this Monday/Tuesday back-to-back for Games 6 and 7 is a bunch of crap? I don't think it benefits/disadvantages either team, but do think that you'd get your best hockey with, y'know, a day off in between.

grapejoos said...

@ scott,
It's not that I expected Flyers fans to be classier than that, I just don't get the hate for Ovechkin. Usually you hate a guy for being a whining slashing bitch (like Briere), not for just being good.

JP said...

In fairness, Caps fans boo Sid pretty much just because he's really good. I mean, he is whiny, but if he was just whiny, I doubt he'd get booed every time he touched the puck in D.C.

Ben said...

Nice game today. Flyers had an absurdly poor start, and an absurdly strong early third, yet Caps hang tough. Nice to see.

Flyers fans don't hate Ovechkin. They fear him. And they're doing their part to try to help take him off his game. And it has worked.

Child is not a scoring threat any more in this series. It's gotten comical.

JP said...

@ Ben: In answer to your earlier question, the only Flyers (or Flyers-related) blogs I've ever really read at all are 700Level and Clarke's Boys. You should start one up - when your readers meet you in person, they're contractually obligated to buy you a beer.

Do you hear that people?! Beer me!

Oh, and pick one - do you fear him or is he not a scoring threat at all? Hopefully you - and the Flyers - think the latter.

Anonymous said...

Most Flyers fans respect/ed Ovechkin (certainly more than Cindy Crosby) as a player, but his unnecessary pirouette after contact in Game 3 really irritated people.

And besides, he's an adult, I'm sure he can handle it.

Cooke's dive and attempt to win a penalty in the 3rd today was disgraceful as well. I thought Washington was supposed to be better than this. That's all.

Bring on game 6!

JP said...

Word is that Knuble is out for the next game(s) with a bum hamstring.

JP said...

Oh, and I deleted an Anonymous anti-Philly comment. Let's keep it about hockey and keep it in the realm of sportsmanlike, please.

JP said...

More on Knuble:

In what was being called a tear of the left hamstring, the injury is expected to sideline him for the rest of the series. Said Knuble, via the Flyers PR:

"There was about four minutes left in the 2nd period. [Capitals defenseman Mike] Green had the puck and he was kind of like setting up to shoot. I went down. Maybe I was a little bit too anxious. I don't know. I changed my mind halfway through it. I think my skate got caught and kind of came over my heel and basically my leg was completely straight, bent forward and pulled a hamstring."

Source

grapejoos said...

Unfortunate break for Knuble. Crappy VC ice strikes again.

If the booing is for Ovechkin trying to draw penalties, fine...he has been doing that more than I'd like. But, it seemed like they were booing him plenty before that. I have seen Flyers going down easy too, but I would admit the Caps seem to be doing it more (I think mostly due to a lack of understanding that refs GENERALLY won't call touchy stuff in the playoffs). With the seemingly random officiating going on this series, I'm amazed they haven't fallen for it more.

Whatever. If the booing for diving, I get that. I hated Kovalev for the same reason. But booing someone just because he's good has always seemed idiotic to me, whether it's Flyers fans vs. Ovie or Caps fans vs. Cindy. I don't think the booing (or chanting "fuck ovechkin," perhaps a new low) is getting to him, but the Flyers players are doing a good job of it.

Keep telling yourselves Ovechkin isn't a scoring threat in this series. He was for a GWG in game 1, and I bet he gets another GWG before it's over.

NS said...

damn that felt good.

Soulie said...

I pooped myself on that Semin goal.

Poop, I say!

JP, if there's a game 7, stop by sect. 419, and beer is on me.

And I'll tell you - the best fight of the series was on the upper concourse behind sect 421 today. Flyer fan spit beer at a Caps fan. And older guy, late 50s or so, informed of his disagreement. Flyer fan asked what he was going to do about it. So Pops Kabongs him in the coconut. Good fight by all participants.

wittcap79 said...

Can someone please, please, explain the Federov penalty to me? And just for the record I don't think Kozlov should have got a GI penalty on Thurs, nor do I think the Flyer (don't remember who) should have got one today. Both crappy ticky tack BS calls. There has been horrible officiating in this series.

Scott said...

Anyone watching the Habs-B's game? So many of the goals in this game are just from getting the puck on net.

ATTENTION CAPS POWER PLAY - JUST SHOOT AND GOOD THINGS HAPPEN!

on ice said...

I BELIEVE.

Anonymous said...

JP, I don't know why have you erased my comment stating the obvious. Fighting comment confirms that. I was sitting in section 421 during game 2 when the fight started there. Philly fans were asing for it. I hope we win on Monday and they will run out of money for Tuesday. Caps found their game, keep believing!

JP said...

Sometimes I have to delete comments not necessarily for the substance of the comment itself, but for what it's likely to incite, and this whole "your fans are classless," "no, your fans are classless" thing is getting a little old, even if partially true.

Anonymous said...

I work for a Fortune 100 company headquatered in Philadelphia, in fact, I work for the company that owns Flyers. I go to Philly few times a year for business, and wish headquaters relocated. So, when I made my erased comment I knew what I was talking about. Regardless, back to hockey. If they play the same way they (Caps) played in first period for two more periods in the series and never play as they played in the third period of the last game -- we'll be set. Officiating is... Was watching Boston vs. Montreal game... I don't know, if you can see it, Versus people put delayed penalty on TV, but officials don't call it? Then there was a penalty on Boston, that didn't exist... Man was fighting for a puck. Same goes to Fedorov penalty. If player can't stand up to a one hand push while fighting for position, he doesn't belong to NHL. I was watching a lot of games, refs suck throughout. But they seem to make mistakes one way. Scary, hah?

Hazardous said...

In fairness, Caps fans boo Sid pretty much just because he's really good. I mean, he is whiny, but if he was just whiny, I doubt he'd get booed every time he touched the puck in D.C.

I'd certainly boo him every time. He's a whiny diver. The kind of player that's ruining hockey, not being it's messiah. And yet, here he is, being treated as such. Yeah, fuck him.

Scott said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkysjcs5vFU

HOLY DIVER!

ted said...

The officiating has almost become a by-line of the series in and of itself. After the interference call against the Flyer's I happened to hear the Philly fan sitting two seats down from me whining about it. I quickly reminded him of the call on Kozlov the night before. He stopped whining.

I am still puzzled by the call on Fedorov. That was perhaps the single worst call of the game and led to the Flyer's first goal.

While the Flyers have had some bad calls go against them, it sure seems like the majority of them have been called on the Caps. For a team that doesn't share the same reputation as the Flyers when it comes to penalties, you would think it would be the other way around.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of Flyers fans, I'd like to tell Caps fans to lighten up. We boo everyone and everything. Santa, McNabb, Briere. Dont' take it so personally.

Our claim to fame as a city is a cracked bell that doesn't work. Axe Body Spray is one of our arena's main sponsors. Terry Murray is on our bench. We traded for a player (Briere) only to find out that he was with child. Clarke gave up the entire friggin farm for Lindros. Plus, we used to be the capital of the U.S., but we weren't worthy and it was transferred to the district.

After tonight, i'm thinking once again - We're not Worthy. Good luck in round 2 Caps.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I misspoke. Briere was a Free Agent. But she's a dedicated mother who cares about her child. So no cheap shots Caps fans.

Hazardous said...

A philly fan who doesn't like Briere? Wow.

Are you sure you're a fan of philly? 100% positive? holy crap, sensible post, made me laugh... this can't come from a philly fan. TIME PARADOX.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. Philly Flyers are falling apart. They're the highest payroll in the NHL with least talent. In fact talent is absent. they have speed (Briere), defense (Timonen) and goaltending (Biron). If Caps do what they suppose to do on defense, New York Rangers, here we come!

NS said...

holy crap...there are actual Semin interviews and quotes out there. He was possessed in Game 5.