Orange & Black Breakdown
by Vindisi on 10/20/11 at 07:26 PM ET
It’s not rare to hear the phrase ‘big game’ in the same breath of a discussion about the matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers. Even in October, tonight’s game is no different.
What to expect from the CAPITALS: What a matchup we have tonight. The Washington Capitals come into this game touting a perfect record without their big horse scoring. Alex Ovechkin is struggling to find the back of the net, which is strange considering the reports that he came into training camp in the best shape of his life. With that renewed sense of purpose, you would expect to see dividends coming out of the gate on this season (albeit the season is still young).
Ovechkin thinking outside the box
My take on it: Due to his intense competitive spirit, it sometimes causes him to over-think the situation rather than react to it. He puts too much pressure on himself to perform on a nightly basis. His skill level is there, but his creativity has taken a back due to a mix of him over-compensating and Bruce Boudreau’s style of play. In the first season of a defense-first mentality instituted by Boudreau, AO notched only 32 goals, which is a steep drop from his previous low of 46 posted in his second year in the league He was a staple at the top of leaderboard for the Rocket Richard for 5 years in a row until last year. It could have simply been a down year due to the adjustment into the new offense. One thing I do know, tonight we will find out if he goes back to his Great 8 ways or if he is still scuffling to find his niche in a defensive-minded team concept.
Tonight’s key player to watch: Nicklas Bäckström is a marvel to watch. He reminds me so much of Giroux because of their uncanny vision on a nightly basis. They see plays that are unfathomable to the naked eye. Their method of attacking the play differs each time they touch the puck. Many players find out how to be successful in this league and stick to it. Most players are like yo-yos. You will throw them out there and they will take the same path every time on the ice because that is what they are good at. Then you have players that are unpredictable that go down the unbeaten trail and act like boomerangs. You know where they will end up, but how they get there is a sight to see. The journey they take is different every shift as they act as pioneers on the ice trying to out-think the opponent. There is only comparison that is active in today’s game who has done it for years on a nightly basis and his name is Pavel Datsyuk. Considering we will not only be having both of them in the game tonight but for years to come, I like to think of us as very fortunate as fans.
What to expect from the FLYERS
What I know:
-They took a very bad Senators team to school on Tuesday, but the intensity they gave in the 2nd period and the first part of the 3rd period cannot happen against a team like the Capitals.
-They are capable of grinding out a tough 60 minutes against one of the East’s elite teams (Boston)
-The Flyers have the 3rd most goals scored after 5 games with 19 goals; they trail Pittsburgh (23) and Colorado (20) whom have played more games (8 and 6 respectively)
-The Flyers have the best goal differential at +9 (barely squeaking out Detroit)
-Is Jagr struggling to get his game going due to the smaller North Americans? My guess is yes. Although he has done well at controlling the puck, his reaction time when it comes time to set himself up in the offensive zone for a scoring chance is a bit frenetic. The main reason he does so well on the power play is because the play slows down and the ice opens up.
-Who is Matt Read? He is the reincarnated version of Patrick Sharp after all these years. We made the mistake of giving up Sharp too soon for a bucket of pucks years ago. Luckily, Mr. Read is our second chance of finding success from a late bloomer (25 years old). This guy seems like the real deal possessing a nice shot and great hands. I can’t wait to see him grow with the Flyers.
-How will the lines shake out with Schenn slotted to start tonight? My guess for tonight is that Schenn slots in Cooter’s spot and Cooter drops down to center the 4th line with his fellow PK partner. My prediction (and hope) for later on in the season is that Schenn switches out with Briere leaving these line combinations.
Simmonds - Schenn - Voracek
Hartnell - Briere - Read
Matchup nightmares for the opposition
My take on it: Briere goes back to his wingman, Hartnell, and Read does his best impersonation of Jochen Hecht. (WAIT, what?!?!) Now hear me out (even though my thinking might be a little off the map).
Briere had his best season lining up with Jochen Hecht in the 2006-2007 season. After scouring through most of the games that Briere scored that year, the majority of his goals were via a primary assist from Mr. Hecht. With a Jochen Hecht style of play - which includes shooting from odd angles - Briere could rekindle that magic and go back to doing what he does best. Danny Briere succeeds in the dirty areas, which is rare for a player his size. He loves to be around the net and is an absolute pain for defenses who struggle containing him. Matt Read is that type of player (Exhibit A: his goal against Ottawa) who could succeed on a line with Briere. In addition, he has a knack for getting the puck to the net as shown by his 12 shots on a 3rd line role trailing only JVR (14), Giroux (14), and Simmonds (17), which would aid in Briere’s scrappy mentality in the blue paint.
Yes, their line would be a bit on the small side and therefore would primarily be set-up on faceoffs in the offensive zone. As for the Schenn line, they become our shut down line with their size and speed while still boasting tons of skill to provide headaches for opposing teams through the league.
My BOLD predictions for tonight’s game:
1. Schenn pots his first as a Flyer rather quickly
2. Read stays hot netting 2 helpers
3. OT winner scored by JvR (all 4 games last year went to OT)
Lets Go Flyers!
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The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
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