- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — It is often written that a game was not as close as a one-goal margin might indicate. Last night, just the opposite was the case as the Washington Capitals were defeated 5-2 by Philadelphia in a game that was not nearly as lopsided as the three-goal margin seems.

In fact, Washington might have played its best game so far in a winless (0-3-1) exhibition season while also giving a clear indication of just how far it has to go.

As has been the case since the start of preseason, restraining penalties were the Caps’ undoing. The Flyers scored twice on the power play to match the two goals Washington scored with the man advantage. Of the 13 minor infractions whistled last night, eight were for hooking — the one penalty no team seems to be able to get around.

“I wish I had an answer for you,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “If you’re not ready to play at this level, you end up taking some penalties. We’ve had the same information as the other teams. … I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault, [but] we’re taking all the steps to correct things.”

Washington doubled its goal output this preseason as Miroslav Zalesak and Brian Sutherby each connecting with their first. The Caps have only one even-strength goal to go with three power-play scores.

Two young defensemen taken in the first round of the 2004 draft, Jeff Schultz (27th) and Mike Green (29th) once again made the front office take notice with fine performances. The pair have had excellent camps so far and may be pushing veterans in battles for roster spots.

Washington was listless during the first period, opening the game with three minors in the first 12 minutes that resulted in the first of Jon Sim’s three goals.

But it was a different Caps team that took the ice for the second period. Instead of being afraid to play aggressively, Washington went at the Flyers, forced errors, tied the game and at worst, played evenly against the team that is the early favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

“In the second period, we started getting pucks at the net and we tried to continue building on our system,” Hanlon said. “We’re trying to evaluate different people in different situations and some of the players have separated themselves. What we thought at the start would be difficult decisions are starting to become a lot easier for us. Some players are playing better than we anticipated and some are starting to drop off.”

Hanlon quickly agreed that Schultz and Green, both products of the tough Western Hockey League, were among the group making significant noise in this camp.

“They’re fine, which is very, very, very good,” Hanlon said.

Schultz is more the physical player, while Green is more of a playmaking defenseman.

Notes — Rookie left wing Alexander Ovechkin was held out of last night’s game even though he is not injured. … The Caps might get some players back for today’s 5p.m. game in Hershey, Pa., against Pittsburgh. Defenseman Jakub Cutta (inflamed tissue in elbow) said he would play for the first time this preseason. Center Andrew Cassels (fractured cheekbone) and defensemen Nolan Yonkman (knee) and Shaone Morrisonn (groin) are listed as possible. … The annual Caps Care Classic is scheduled for tomorrow at Springfield Golf and Country Club. About a dozen players are scheduled to be present. The rest of the team will participate in drills in Hershey.

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