Game 3: Preview of Capitals @ Flyers
The Caps are all about resilience, and I expect to see them rebound from the first faceoff. Sunday’s shutout was frustrating for the entire team. Not only did the Flyers prevent them from marking the scoresheet, the telecast crew nailed them (see here for my comments on that issue). Ovechkin responds to his own less-than-stellar performances better than most in the league. With the inciteful comments from Mike Milbury, he should be a man on fire tonight.
The Flyers Keys to the Game:
1. Martin Biron. Seems obvious, but if he plays well, the Flyers win. If not, they lose.
2. Stay out of the Penalty Box. The Flyers didn’t lose Game 1 because of poor play. In fact, they dominated the first 40-45 minutes of the game. But spending too much time killing penalties wore players down and gave the Capitals too many opportunities on Martin Biron. The Caps scored, giving them momentum and the win. On the upside, Derian Hatcher may return to the lineup. He may not be the fastest player, but don’t forget that he was named the NHL’s best penalty killer last season when the Flyers were by far the worst team in the league. Hatcher is a proven playoff performer (the only American to captain a Stanley Cup team) and steadies the defense every time he’s on the PK.
3. Hit first and hit hard. The Flyers always play their best when they establish a strong forecheck early in the game. The Capitals will try to outskate them early on and may try to wear them down with hits. The Flyers need to make a statement physically: this is our barn and you will pay for every inch of ice.
4. Stick to the game plan. It’s a standard cliche – you have to play your game. But it’s only a cliche because it’s a true statement. The Flyers earned 3 shutouts in their last 4 games by patient defense and aggressive forechecking. Regardless of what the Capitals throw against the Flyers, they have to adhere to their game plan. The only period they veered away is the only period they lost.