PHILADELPHIA | The Washington Capitals are 5-0-0. The Philadelphia Flyers are 4-0-1. Thursday night hockey in Philadelphia.
Bring on the cliches, as everyone talked about this game as the biggest early-season “test” for both teams.
“You know what, we’ve played some really good teams so far – the Bruins, the Kings and Vancouver. But this is probably going to be the hardest,” Flyers center Danny Briere said. “These guys are playing extremely well. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, they haven’t lost. It should be a good challenge to give them their first loss of the season.’’
While Caps coach Bruce Boudreau praised Philadelphia’s depth of scoring, ex-Caps forward Jaromir Jagr – much like Briere – pumped Washington’s tires – particularly the young guns.
“[Alex Ovechkin is] very dangerous. You’ve got to be very careful; you can’t give him much room to [operate],” Jagr said. “Then you got Semin on the other side, Backstrom, Green – hes a very good offensive defenseman.”
Said Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov: “Yeah, they [look] unbeatable right now so far.”
Matt Read, 25, who goes into Thursday night tied for the rookie lead in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists), is looking forward to his first game as part of this rivalry.
“They’ve been one of the dominant teams in the NHL the last couple years,” Read said. “I look forward to it a lot. I can’t wait till that puck drops and get the nerves out.”
Guys like Troy Brouwer are getting their first taste, as well, though this might not rise to the level of Caps-Penguins, in some people’s eyes.
“IT’s kind of the undercard to Washington-Pittsburgh, I guess,” Brouwer said. “I’ve heard a lot about it. Last year all four games went to overtime – even that itself can bring a rivalry.”
Both of these teams getting off to hot starts helps build up the anticipation, too.
“Games like this are exciting,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “They bring out the best in you.”