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Posted at 1:51 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Flyers' depth could pose a challenge for Capitals

By Katie Carrera

The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers boast five scorers with at least 31 points, including all three members of their top line combination of Ville Leino (35), Danny Briere (40) and Scott Hartnell (31). The Flyers possess exceptional depth with three lines that consistently contribute to the offense, which could create a challenge for the Capitals' defense at any given moment.

"I think the key is good gaps in the neutral zone and taking time and space away from whoever's on the ice," defenseman Jeff Schultz said. "We know that Briere likes to hide and kind of get lost out there, so we just have to have our heads on a swivel for when he's on the ice. He's small and he kind of gets lost and likes to use the net. For us it's just being aware of who's on the ice and having good communication."

Coach Bruce Boudreau pointed out this morning that the offensive situation between these two teams is reversed from what it has been recently. Philadelphia is second in the league with 3.42 goals per game while the Capitals are 14th at 2.80 -- more than a goal less than what they produced a season ago.

Slowing the Flyers' offense will be key if the Capitals continue to be unable to muster significant offensive pressure and convert on their chances, but so will matching Philadelphia's physicality. The Flyers have a reputation as a hard-hitting, grind-it-out team for good reason, and Washington will need the same bite in its game.

"You definitely want to match their intensity," defenseman Scott Hannan said. "We're a big, physical team, too. You look at the size we've got up front with a lot of guys that can crash and bang, and a big part of physical hockey is trying to get it in deep and cycle. That adds a lot of physicality to the game and it's what we've been trying to do."

Hannan last faced the Flyers in the second game of the season, when he was still with the Colorado Avalanche. For Matt Hendricks, tonight's contest will mark the first time he's played at Wells Fargo Center for an NHL game.

Playing in Philadelphia is always an interesting experience for the opposing team, but the players all said they enjoy it because there's no other atmosphere quite like it.

"Put earplugs on and don't listen to the crowd, because they can get to you," Boudreau said when asked what he'd tell a young player in his first game against the Flyers. "It's actually a very, very fun atmosphere. I love playing in it. They've got fabulous fans in Philly. Whether you love them or hate them, they're fabulous....They're coming at you from a lot of different angles."

In some unrelated news, The Globe and Mail reported today that when the Capitals were looking for a veteran defenseman earlier this season -- a search that eventually led to acquiring Hannan from Colorado for Tomas Fleischmann -- they also spoke to the Calgary Flames about trading for Robyn Regehr.

By Katie Carrera  | January 18, 2011; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  Philadelphia Flyers  
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Next: Capitals still looking for a fast start

Comments

I think A. Gordon is out tonight is because if he plays 10 games in the NHL he will have to clear waivers before being able to be sent down. The Caps will want to be sure he won't be taken before they play him another game.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 18, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm gonna hurl if vermontcaps posts "caste-system" one more time...

Posted by: Rhino40 | January 18, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Gordon's waiver issue is 10 games and/or X amount of days on the NHL roster ( I believe). So his clock is ticking regardless, as I remember it.

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 18, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

@icehammer

You are probably right. However at this point for Andrew Gordon I hope he heads to an organization that will actually use him properly. We are missing 2 scoring RW's, he should be in. He got in on Sunday yet he played 3rd and 4th line. Sorry but thats stupid.

Posted by: ThePat | January 18, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Poor Blues...they signed two different players only to have them claimed off re-entry waivers...haha.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | January 18, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

So, DJ King needs to take out one of the Flyers top 3 early. Is that the game plan?

Posted by: Eler | January 18, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

If that first line does not break out of that "slump" tonight, I hope DJ King punches them.

Posted by: j3rockstar | January 18, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Interesting story, well not really as espn are just showing their true clors as Cindy puppets. But what is starting to make for interesting reading are the comments.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/3632/the-real-story-underlying-the-sidney-crosbyall-star-saga?prosaction=newpost&status=ok&prosaction=newpost&status=ok

Posted by: bqts | January 18, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I hope D.J King goes into the crowd, and rips Cotton Candy right out of some kids hands...and eats it right in front of him..

Posted by: SA-Town | January 18, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I hope D.J King goes into the crowd, and rips Cotton Candy right out of some kids hands...and eats it right in front of him..

Posted by: SA-Town | January 18, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I hope D.J King goes into the crowd, and rips Cotton Candy right out of some kids hands...and eats it right in front of him..

Posted by: SA-Town | January 18, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

SA-Town - FTW!

Posted by: j3rockstar | January 18, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@bqts: Nice article. Yeah, ESPN's credibility doesn't even register with me. They might as well be a tabloid news show.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 18, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I got as far as the 3rd para and saw this, unbelievable:

"Regardless of how you feel about David Steckel's collision/hit on Crosby in the Winter Classic, the question must now be raised..."

Dude, Pierre - there's nothing to feel, it was an effing accident, happens all the time in hockey! What a load of utter garbage from LeBrun.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 18, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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