Flyers-Caps Rivalry? What Rivalry?
So to quote Bruce Boudreau one more time, "There are a lot of teams we don't like, and the Flyers are one of them....I don't know how much they like us, but we don't like them."
Pretty cut and dried, that one. Don't like. So, then, I figured the animosity must flow in both directions. Flyers?
"No, not really," Simon Gagne said, when I asked if the feelings were mutual. "Sure [the Caps] hate the Flyers because they beat you in Game 7, but for us, no, rival will be more in the division, maybe the Rangers, the Devils or Pittsburgh. But Washington? Maybe a little bit, because of last year in the playoffs, but I don't think it's similar to those [division] guys right now."
"Dislike them? Who likes the other teams?" Kimmo Timonen said. "I think that's a funny comment--you know, 'We hate them, we hate them.' Who likes other teams? Do I like Vancouver? I don't. Do I like Chicago? I don't....I don't think anybody likes other teams. That's kind of weird, if I start liking the New Jersey Devils. You know, I think that's funny."
"I think every team in our division wants to be our rivals," Josh Gratton said, when I told him where the Flyers rank locally.
"With Washington, definitely it's progressing. The seven-game series last year, and then the last game didn't go too well their way, a couple fights, a pretty big battle. Tonight's gonna be an interesting game."
Coach John Stevens spoke of the Caps-Flyers rivalry, but in fairly muted tones.
"I think any time you play a team in the playoffs, that's where the rivalry is built," he said. "You look at Pittsburgh, you look at Montreal, you look at Washington now, but on top of that they're one of the better teams in the East. I mean, they're a team that's trying to get to where we're trying to get to, and obviously they're trying to build on what they did last year."
As for Boudreau's comments that the Flyers "started coming after our guys" following Donald Brashear's fighting wins over Riley Cote last month, the Flyers again disagreed.
"If I look at it, I didn't see anybody going after their guys," Gagne said. "I know Brashear fought Cote. The guys who should fight fought, and nobody else went after their top guys, or their guys went after [our] top guys. I didn't really see that."
"He's trying to pump his team up, probably," Timonen said. "That's all right by me, but to me, the biggest thing is we've got to think about ourselves here. They can worry about theirselves there."
"Riles maybe lost a fight, but he showed up against a much bigger, much stronger Donald Brashear," Gratton said. "We don't consider that a loss at all. We actually consider that a win for us, by him stepping up to a guy like that. So that's definitely not the case. We have all the faith in Riles. People lose fights; [Matt] Bradley, he lost his fight against myself, and I don't know, they're not talking about that in the paper, we're not talking about that in the paper. But if they want to bring up a couple fights that guys win or lose, so be it. It'll be a battle again tonight, and maybe Brash might win another fight, maybe another guy on our team will beat one of their guys up. So...that has nothing to do with anything."
And the Flyers' memories of the Verizon Center last spring?
"The atmosphere in this rink was tremendous," Stevens said. "I thought it was great. Coming in here last year, they had the red, the building was loud, they were behind their team, and you know Philadelphia's obviously a great atmosphere to be in as well."
"I've been here now for nine years, and I remember the crowd was pretty quiet, not a lot of fans," Gagne said. "But now it's a lot more people in the stands, you see a lot of Caps jerseys, that's something you didn't really see a lot in the past."
"Last year I believe the seventh game, these guys said it was the loudest building they've played in in a long time," said Gratton, who played for Phoenix last season. "They said they couldn't hear themselves think for the first period of the game, it was so loud."
Anyhow, I agree that tonight has much potential to be "an interesting game."
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