It might feel easy to write off the Flyers this season, but not so fast. They can still surprise, both for being amazing and, alternately amazingly bad, so you just never know which team is going to show up.
For a little insight into this Jekyll/Hyde team, we were lucky enough to chat with Collin Mehalick, editor over at the excellent Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey and all-around smarty-pants about all things Philly, about today’s game, and just what sort of squad we’ll be facing at the Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s hope this goes better this time around (Photo: Geoff Burke, USA Today Sports)
Pity poor San Jose. So close to San Francisco, and yet so powerfully, profoundly uncool. So flooded with tech start-ups and venture capital money, yet unable to afford anything interesting downtown. So little meth, so much meh.
The exception that proves the rule in this case is the San Jose Sharks. Even before the era of the awesome Todd McLellan, the Sharks were and remain perennial challengers in the playoffs. Their roster isn’t exactly packed with brand-name star power, but that hasn’t held them back any– this year or those previous. Hey, any team that takes the ice through the mouth of a giant shark while Metallica blares is OK in our book.
Both the Sharks and the Caps might enter tonight’s game thinking they’ve got a little something to prove. For our part, Sunday’s smothering by the filthy Flyers at Verizon stung– at least, we hope it stung enough for the Caps to step up their game.
Today we have the treat of hearing from David Pollak, who covers the San Jose Sharks like a blanket for the San Jose Mercury News, with his views of Todd McLellan’s squad, and how things might shake out at the Shark Tank tonight.
Pollak is one of the sharpest hockey reporters around, and better still, he didn’t make fun of us for our lame questions.
First off, nobody’s panicking here. I said NOBODY’S PANICKING HERE but maybe just a teensy and perhaps a little urgency might be good?
Last night, playing against the Blue Jackets and their preposterous annoying cannons (can we dump those in a river pleeeease), we didn’t see as much of the sloppy play visited upon us since mid-January. Still, we did see too many penalties and overall our game still isn’t looking as tight as it had been looking. Time for a little more yelling we think, Coach Trotz.
It’s here, and there’s no use chirping at the other squad at this point. Except to say…we dare not say anything at the moment, actually. Other than the CSN-Chicago lady we ran into who told us how f*%#@ing cold Chicago is, we’re just not going there. That, and our contributor today actually likes DC, and so now we’re feeling like jerks to whizz all over Chicago…which is, in the end, a great city.
‘Tis the holiday season and we’re just going to go ahead and assume you’ve all been enjoying the pretty presents being handed out by our Capitals. Greenie going great, Ovi being unbelieoviable, Nicky being all under-stated and awesomely Swedie and such; Brooks and Braden and Beags and every other present that we really really REALLY want this year. (You know which one, Santa.)
We want those sweet, sweet holiday goodies to keep flowing – so no being naughty for us! At least until it’s safe to be smug jerks again. Thus we dispense with the reminders of the smelly awfulness of the Rags (we’re being nice!) and introduce you instead to Joe Fortunato, resident smarty and managing editor at Blueshirt Banter, for his thoughts on tonight’s tilt.
The Swedish Machine, doin’ his thing with the Florida Cats
You know that scene in the Star Wars movie? The first one…or, the fourth one which was actually the first? The one that was good?
Luke and Han are blasting away at all the awful spaceships that are swarming around outside, and Luke is missing and missing and just shooting impotently away, pew pew pew, until he actually gets one? The one that was headed directly toward him in a straight line at about 10 miles an hour? And he’s so happy and Han says “Don’t get cocky, kid”?
Oh, I can hear you all now, sighing “There goes Doug who knows nothing about hockey and is just a huge wet blanket and shut up.” I mean, those very few of you who actually read these things. Hey, I’m super fantastic happy about how the Caps are playing these days, and I loved seeing Nick “Swedish Machine Never Smiles” Backstrom get a hattie in regular season. And we’re playing the Florida Panthers tonight, who aren’t 1/2 the team Tampa is, or us probably, so there’s no need to worry, right?
Call me Eeyore, but I just can’t get too comfortable with this team. As awesome as they are, I’ve just seen too many times great play slide suddenly into crap.
Speaking of, I’ll say this about Sunrise, Florida, home of the Cats: at least it’s not Fort Lauderdale. Since starting in the 90’s expansion, Panthers management have done just about everything they could to alienate their fans… sorta like another professional sports team that’s become a tire fire since being acquired by a certain weasel, which needs not be named. Even down to the location of BB&T arena where we play tonight, which is located literally ACROSS THE STREET from the marshy, anaconda-filled Everglades. Nice move, Panthers.
It’s a peculiar character trait that, sometimes, after having tempted the Fates only to inexplicably emerge unscathed and victorious, one seeks not only to dare the test again, but to do so confidently, even buoyantly. I first knew this the moment after I went skydiving – solo, there were no tandems back then – and mere moments after touching back to Earth I eagerly began planning the next date to fling myself out of an airplane that was perfectly sound.
Such is my mood today as we head into our second tilt in a week against Tampa Bay. Tuesday’s match was a thriller, to be sure, and one that I’m not so sure we had all that locked up. We played like champs nearly the entire 60 minutes, and hooray, we won and bailamoed. Three in a row and we looked great.
But sometimes greatness is a quirk; or worse, a passing wind that blows in only to melt away into the uncaring ether. So poetry.
Hey, we’re going to the game tonight– for that and more I would lurve to see a repeat performance. But the Bolts are still a really good team– consistently so. They’re really just so infuriatingly consistent that I don’t feel like tempting the Fates further by mocking Tampa Bay as being a city so old that “boarding” nearly always appears next to the word “shuffle.” I mean, the GOP 2012 convention actually lowered the city’s median age for about a week is all I’m saying. But not tempting fate.
A little Swede on Swede action at last year’s Caps Wings match
About that recent little jaunt to the land of moose and Anne Murray that was supposed to be a skip through the daisies? Exactly. And let us never speak of it again.
For the most part, the Caps are still playing their best in several seasons, we’re seeing skill from young and old alike, and our goaltending worries appear to be over. But tonight we face a team that’s also resurgent, skilled, and with new blood in the net.
The Red Wings should worry you.
They’re older than us by nearly five decades, they’re Cuppier than us by about everything, they’re Swede-ier than us av en skit belastning, their unis are hands-down the best anywhere, and they’ve got octopi. We’ve got Winger.
But they do have to live in Detroit, so there’s that.
Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon, who play on the same line, fml.
The Capitals are off and away on their grand Canadian adventure, and expectations are running high. As Peter noted, the team is looking healthy, playing tighter than they have in a while, and still undefeated in regular play.
Even better, first on our dance card are the Edmonton Oilers, who are not healthy, not playing tight and largely the definition of defeat lately. Plus, they have to spend much of their time in Edmonton, so there’s that, too.
We had a whole schtick worked up about Edmonton the Annoying – perhaps we’ll save it for next time, it was actually funny, which we admit is unusual for us. But sadly, in light of what appears to be a very bad no good day for all Canadians, and even the smart choice to cancel tonight’s scheduled Leafs/Sens match, we just don’t feel like making fun of anyone today, Canadians especially.
So here we give you Oiler insight from “baggedmilk”, a cheeky writer up at the OilersNation blog. He’s smart, even if our questions aren’t. Hit him up on Twitter @jsbmbaggedmilk; you can thank us later.
“Cautiously optimistic” is one of those contorted bits of language that gets tossed about with abandon in Washington. DC loves bad language; the more obfuscatory and non-committal a phrase, the greater its use. Orwell called it “that mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence,” which makes us laugh because, while Orwell was referring to official British government communications, that seems an even more apt description of the Washington Capitals at several points over the past few years.
Not so this year. The front office, the coaches, Trotz and the team all look like they’re pulling in roughly the same direction. The point is: no modifiers about it. When it comes to the Capitals, call us Optimistic. Ish.
Which brings us to tonight’s tango with the New Jersey Devils (3-0).
Traditionally, this is the point where we trade barbs about the other place we’re playing, noting what a vile and smelly pool of despair it is. But we’re talking about New Jersey here. Saying mean things about New Jersey is like yelling at a sick puppy – it takes no talent and everyone just ends up feeling awful. So let’s just say “New Jersey” and leave it at that.