Well the rest was nice, the guys with bumps and bruises had a chance to rest a bit. It has been since Sunday for the Flyers and since Saturday for the Caps. As hot as both teams have been, I am sure both coaches would have liked to start on Wednesday. The long layoff and all the press the Caps and AO are getting might work against them. They are a bunch that really overachieved this year. They were picked to be near the bottom of the division, but with a really fun guy to watch in AO. I wonder how the week of people saying they are favorites and picking them to go to the finals is sitting with a young team without much experience. I know Federov and Kolzig have been there, but not too many others.
The Flyers have veteran presence, but most with other teams. They really pulled it together in the last few weeks and corrected many bad habits they had gotten into. The forwards re-applied the pressure on the backcheck and held their position in the defensive zone to assist the breakout. Defensemen were again able to pinch in the offensive zone due to the play of the forwards. Biron and Nittymaki again saw shots from the outside instead of the slot. When they play like this, they are a hard team to play against. They physically beat teams up along the wall and wear them down.
One thing the break does do for sure is compress the series. These games are coming fast and furious now. That usually gives the edge to the more physical team. The key to the series will be the initial push the Caps get from the frenzied crowd at the Verizon Center tonight. I have attended many Flyers vs Caps games there and the crowd is usually about 60-40 or it seems that way by volume. Not tonight. The Caps fans will be in full force and full throat. Keep the game tight and quiet the crowd. Make simple plays and create a forecheck. Avoid early dumb penalties and get through the first period. A 0-0 score will begin to bore the home town crowd - many of whom are not regular hockey fans. Then the game can be taken over.