Amid all the excitement being generated these days in Washington by Alexander Ovechkin and company, one minor detail seems to be getting lost in the shuffle. The Capitals are not invincible.
Now you might have been hard pressed to convince anyone in D.C. about that after the Caps won their last seven and 11 of their last 12 to win the Southeast Division and earn a playoff spot, especially since they engineered a remarkably dramatic third period comeback to win the series opener Friday against the Flyers. While their latest victory was the stuff of Hollywood thanks to leading man Ovechkin making a play for the ages to score the winner, it's worth remembering that the two defensemen he undressed on the play -- Lasse Kukkonen and Jaroslav Modry -- aren't the guys who are supposed to be on the ice when the Great 8 is. And until then, Ovechkin really hadn't been much of a factor thanks to the way Philadelphia had managed to shut him down.
But a win is a win, even if it falls under the fortunate heading, and it did little to diminish the growing confidence being felt from the Washington upstarts. Sunday's 2-0 loss at home should change that.
Truth is the score doesn't really reflect the margin by which the Flyers dominated the game. Philadelphia outplayed its hosts for much of the opener as well and would have come out on top had goalie Martin Biron been sharper. He was Sunday although he wasn't tested all that often, and because of it, the Flyers get to go home with the series tied 1-1 and the momentum shifted in their favor.
Really, it didn't take much to do that. Playoff series give teams a chance to adjust to opponents between games, but Philadelphia coach John Stevens insisted correctly on the off day that there was nothing to modify with the game plan, only with the execution. A simple assertion perhaps, but obviously valid consideringPhiladelphia was all over the Caps from the outset of Game 2 negating the home team's offensive firepower with smart positioning, diligent back checking and superb penalty killing. Ovechkin was limited to five shots, with the most dangerous being a first-period rocket that was hard to enough to potentially hurt Biron, but not beat him.
The standout on this day was Mike Richards and his linemates, who were all over Ovechkin throughout the game and the Flyers No. 1 defense pairing of Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn. Those units have Ovechkin and those along side him looking lost for much of the afternoon, and iff nothing else, it showed that the underdog Flyers, who finished strong and came into this series under the radar, have figured out a way to neutralize Washington's big guns.
They may not be able to do so over the course of a series, but no one should assume they can't either.