- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001


The Jaromir Jagr era in Washington Capitals history has begun. It didn't get off to an especially joyous note matter of fact, it was pretty lousy but it hopefully will last longer and produce better results than the Stephane Richer era.

The Philadelphia Flyers picked some rookies apart last night and cruised to a 6-1 exhibition victory before an MCI Center crowd that was announced as 12,190 but appeared to be much smaller.

The lone Washington goal came off Jagr's stick, which made the crowd happy, but it didn't come until 2:44 of the third and the Caps were down 3-0 by that time. Nonetheless, it wasn't a shutout and it came in the manner the former Pittsburgh Penguins star made famous and the Caps have made one of their signatures.

It started with Sergei Gonchar passing down low to Adam Oates, who patiently waited for Jagr to set up beside the goalie on the weak side. Oates passed through the crease, as he has done so often in the past, and Jagr rammed the puck into the net.

But that was the highlight for Caps' fans in a game which showed exactly what areas the team needs to concentrate on between now and opening night. And except for Olie Kolzig's goaltending, those areas include pretty much the entire spectrum of the game.

It may have been a case of jitters because of recent terrorist activities or jitters because it was the preaseason opener, but the Caps were sloppy and at times were their own worst enemy, missing great scoring chances in the first period and early in the second.

Coach Ron Wilson made liberal use of the rookies he had in the lineup last night but none stood out. Some were victimized by some fairly nifty moves by the Flyers, including some by Philadelphia rookie Pavel Brendl, who had two goals and an assist, and Jeremy Roenick, who had a goal and two assists.

"I think we had seven guys under 22 and they had only one or two," Wilson said. "I think that showed a little bit, a lack of experience. That's what these games are for, to get a look at where these people are and to give those guys a look as to where they are as well, and what they have to work on."

The Caps' search for an enforcer might have ended in their own training camp. Rookie left wing Stephen Peat was a knockout winner over the Flyers' Ruslan Fedotenko late in the first period. Peat was in Portland, Maine, last season but played only six games due to extensive abdominal surgery.

Washington decided not to bring back little-used brawler Brantt Myhres and has been looking for a replacement who can stand up for his teammates and make something of a contribution. Peat's exploits as a brawler in the Western Hockey League were legendary long before he was drafted by Anaheim in June of 2000.

Peat finished the night with seven penalty minutes, one less than his total last season in two preseason games.

Notes The Caps' top picks from their last two drafts, center Brian Sutherby (2000) and defenseman Nathan Paetsch (2001), were both in action last night and they've gotten used to playing on the same rink together. They are teammates on the Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Warriors in the Western Hockey League, where both will return unless they stick with Washington. Both are also candidates for the Canadian national junior team this season. Paetsch has had a very good camp for a player going through his first pro camp but Sutherby, in his second Washington camp, has a better chance to make the team because of center Jeff Halpern's holdout… . The team has extended its invitation to firefighters and police officers and their families to attend the Sept. 29 exhibition game free… . Peter Bondra, Sergei Gonchar and Brendan Witt wore the 'A' of alternate captains last night. The team has no captain at the moment.

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