- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

The Washington Capitals would love to believe that their biggest rivalry is with the Philadelphia Flyers, but it's doubtful the Flyers view it that way. To the Flyers, seeing the Caps usually means they are a lock for two points.

It's an illusion Washington would love to change and will have to if it wants league-wide respect.

The Flyers are at MCI Center tonight looking to run their unbeaten streak against Washington to 14 (the Caps are 0-12-1) and their overall record against the Caps to 85-54-19. Philadelphia has won both games played this season as well as two exhibition games.

"We've got to find a way to redeem ourselves," goalie Olie Kolzig said yesterday after a reasonably short practice. "Last week, that was embarrassing."

He was referring to last Saturday night when the Caps amassed a stunning total of nine shots on goal in the first 58 minutes of the game. They scored on a rebound, giving them two more shots not exactly a total to be proud of.

"[Sebastien Charpentier] gave us a chance to win," said Kolzig, who was on injured reserve at the time. "Realistically, the game should have been over in the first period, maybe the first five minutes. We've got to find a way to give ourselves a chance to win right down to the end."

Despite their deep wealth of talent, the Caps were not picked to make a deep run in the playoffs, while Philadelphia was one of the preseason favorites to be there at the end. To gain that status, the Caps have to find a way to beat the Flyers.

"I'm looking forward to it because I don't think the Caps played their best hockey at all in Philadelphia, so I'd like to see how we match up," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "You could probably throw out the first two games; they were clearly better than us.

"We gave them opportunities. We're not patient against them. We turned over a lot of pucks. We played into their hands. We ended up standing around a lot in the last game, so I'd like to see if we have some jump and can play a smarter game against them."

All that aside, the Caps entered the final 90 seconds of the game a week ago with a chance to pull out a tie. Charpentier had done such a good job of keeping his team in the game, making 43 saves, some of which bordered on circus varieties, that the Caps only trailed 2-1 despite being outshot 45-11.

But that was one of only three one-goal losses the Caps have suffered this season. They have won seven of those games, meaning the club usually has been able to find a way to win the close matches.

Two of the reasons for that have been Kolzig and Jaromir Jagr. Kolzig has been in goal for five of the seven one-goal victories, and Jagr's goals have produced four of Washington's seven wins.

"I've thought they were our two best players all season, plain and simple," Cassidy said after Kolzig foiled Florida and Jagr won the game in overtime with a short-handed score Thursday night.

Notes Sylvain Cote and the Caps reached a financial settlement yesterday, effectively ending his NHL career, at least with Washington. Cote, 37, played in 1,171 games in the league, scoring 122 goals and 435 points playing for Hartford, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas and Washington twice. He played in 622 Caps games with 75 goals and 270 points. He appeared in 40 Washington playoff games with six goals and 20 points. He skated in just one game this season, and it was obvious he was rusty. He excelled when he was one of the top four regular players, pushed almost to the point of overwork. When the going was easy and he didn't get 18 to 20 minutes a night, he didn't play as well. The native of Quebec City was picked 11th overall by Hartford in 1984.

Cote, his wife and son make their home in Annapolis; he operates a charter fishing boat out of Ocean City and is awaiting delivery of a custom-built 42-footer of his own design.

Defenseman Brendan Witt (bruised shoulder) missed practice yesterday and is not expected to play tonight. Defenseman Calle Johansson, 35, "got the day off for bumps and bruises, playing a lot of minutes, overall soreness. We figured he'd be better off taking the day off and relaxing," Cassidy said. Center Robert Lang also missed practice with a slight cold.

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