Coming off an impressive 7-2 win that snapped a losing streak in Ottawa that spanned several presidential elections, the Philadelphia Flyers return home tonight to face the Washington Capitals.
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And Alex Ovechkin.
Not necessarily in that order.
The series between these two teams has been tight in recent seasons. Since the 2007-08 season (the first season following the Flyers' fall from grace), Philly holds a 7-5-4 edge in regular season meetings (they also won a playoff meeting in seven games).
Everything has been close. Last season, each game was decided in overtime or a shootout. Seven of the 16 games overall have gone to overtime or a shootout. Heck, two games in that playoff series went to overtime, and of the non-overtime results in the regular season in the last four years, only two games have been decided more more than two goals.
All eyes tonight will be on the guy wearing No. 8, Alex Ovechkin. He's a dynamic player. He's a player who unlike, say, Sidney Crosby, fans of every team can enjoy watching. He's fast, he's skilled, he's physical. He's a beast.
Through five games this season, Washington is 5-0. Quite surprisingly, the key hasn't been Ovechkin. He has just one goal, two assists and his a minus-2 on the season. Instead, it's guys like Jason Chimera, Marcus Johansson and Alex Semin who have been doing the damage.
Are teams focusing too much on containing Ovechkin? Perhaps. Is that the right strategy? For the Flyers, it still might be. In those 16 regular season meetings, Ovechkin has scored 11 goals (the Caps scored 55 overall) and notched 7 assists. He tallied five of those goals during the 2009-10 season, in which the Caps took three of four meetings.
In the other three seasons, the Flyers are 6-2-4 against the Caps and Ovechkin's scoring is way down.
Coincidence? Probably not. For the Flyers, once again, success against the Caps is all about Alex.
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