- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy didn't have to go to videos last night to get a look at a lot of the things that went wrong for the Capitals last season. The Caps, new and old, gave the rookie coach an eyeful.
Less than adequate goaltending, missed defensive assignments, too many penalties, not enough shooting, a list as long as an arm contributed to Washington's 4-1 exhibition defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers in the preseason opener for both teams. It was Philadelphia's seventh straight victory over the Caps.
It was Cassidy's first game at the NHL level as a coach. He said before the game he wanted to get a look at how his players shaped up as a team after two weeks of training camp. The answer is two more weeks of training camp is not going to hurt the Caps.
"It is preseason but I expected a little more jump, create a little more offense anyway," said Cassidy. "It just didn't happen tonight. We turned the puck over a lot at the blue line and our young guys never established a forecheck.
"But in fairness to them, I think we had a lot of guys playing last year's system, trying to do things a little bit different in terms of taking away the walls. It's something that's going to be a gradual process but nonetheless, when you only generate two power plays and 20 shots in your home opener, that's not encouraging. But the sun will come up tomorrow, we'll keep working on it."
It was the first time either team played under the league's new mandate to strictly enforce obstruction rules; there was only one obstruction call in the game. It was also the first time the teams played with time-restricted faceoff rules; the game was completed in a swift 2:13, about 20 minutes quicker than usual. No TV coverage was a major contributor to the quick conclusion.
Veteran Olie Kolzig started and played the first two periods, allowing three goals. But two of the three were questionable, including a 50-foot, unscreened blast from the right point that zipped past his left pad en route to the net.
Who stood out? Veteran Kip Miller, the free agent acquisition, appears to be every bit as savvy as he was said to be. He was constantly on top of the puck or knew where it was going and was there to meet it.
Rookie defenseman Steve Eminger did not appear awed by his first view of the NHL and continues to have a step on some players with more experience.
"This is definitely the toughest jump so far in my process," said Eminger, 18. "I don't think anyone expected a rookie to dominate; today was just a day to get your feet wet. I was glad to get this game over with and go on from there."
He admitted he was nervous pretty much throughout his first NHL game, exhibition or not. "It was a lot different pace than training camp. You try to battle through those nerves and do what you do best out there. There are some things I would like to do better but, and I'm not using this as an excuse, it was my first game. I think I just wanted to take things slow and progress as the games go on."
Center Brian Sutherby was, well, Brian Sutherby steady and solid, defensively atop his game and he nearly had a goal. But centering the fourth line, he didn't get a lot of ice time, especially with the Caps never in front.
Washington's lone goal came from Sergei Gonchar, who stickhandled around one defender then launched a shot on goal that deflected past Robert Esche.
Notes It took Caps right wing Stephen Peat just 67 seconds to renew acquaintances with Flyers wing Todd Fedoruk last night, the fifth time in barely a season the two have fought. Peat won by a TKO. The Caps play the Boston Bruins in Manchester, N.H., tonight and host Pittsburgh at 7:08 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are available for the Penguins game. The team expects to trim an unspecified number of players from the roster today and possibly more after tomorrow's game. The plan is to get the roster down to 30-32 by the time the club leaves for Dallas on Sunday afternoon. The protective nets covering the end zones of the rink will be in place tomorrow at MCI. Reportedly one set was ready for installation until it was discovered the holes in the netting were larger than the pucks they were supposed to stop.



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