Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Big Test Awaits in Philly

The Capitals get a much-deserved day off Sunday, as after an impressive start in Boston, Washington's good first 40 minutes against Toronto in the home opener gives the squad their second 2-0-0 start in three seasons.

However, getting number three could be a bit trickier than the first two.

The Flyers are a team that matches up well against the Capitals, playing a very physical game and now with Chris Pronger in the lineup for Philadelphia, they'll certainly attempt to frustrate Washington's high-flying forwards and limit the Caps' chances while having some talented forwards of their own that can put the puck in the net.

One of the reasons the Capitals got Mike Knuble from the Flyers is for games like this, as he's willing to fight through traffic to go to the net, something Washington lacked last season, and now it'll be interesting to see how they match up against a team that certainly has given them trouble over the past two seasons.

Saturday night, Toronto got suckered into playing end-to-end hockey with Washington, and not too many teams will win that kind of style against the Capitals. The Maple Leafs certainly got burned, giving up a pair of breakaway goals and looking out of sorts for the first two periods against the Capitals.

Philadelphia also has gotten off to a hot start this season, blanking the Hurricanes in Raleigh Friday night before heading up to Newark and quelling the Devils on Saturday for a 2-0-0 start of their own. Washington has outscored its opponents 10-5, while Philadelphia has an 7-2 edge, having the makeup for a very good contest between two teams that figure to be strong contenders for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The only negative of Washington's first two games was the final 20 minutes against the Leafs, where the Caps hit cruise control and allowed Toronto some life late before Semyon Varlamov was able to shut the door. Too many games last season the Caps appeared disinterested at times, which cost them a couple of contests over the course of the season, and Bruce Boudreau certainly wasn't pleased with the finish.

Still, after a pair of games on the very young season, the Capitals have given their fans a glimpse of how good this team can be, and that they certainly are capable of living up to their ample pre-season hype.

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