Ladies and gentlemen, I am excited to report to you that hockey season has, more or less, arrived. Per Tarik, the gang's all here. Media day is tomorrow, followed by the kickoff of training camp down at Kettler on Friday. There's a chill in the air. And to top it all off, today, players wearing Capitals sweaters took the ice to play a full sixty minutes against a group of opponents wearing Flyers black. Granted, what we're talking about here is a rookie game. Nevertheless, it was a real game, with an announcer giving us names and numbers for the players scoring goals (or, in the Caps' case, taking penalties). There were actual people (well, Flyers fans anyway) in the stands. And the best part? Dave Steckel was no where to be seen.
As for the game itself, it could have gone better. The Caps' rookies dominated the course of play for the first two periods but did themselves in with a bevy of first period penalties. Six in the first period alone, to be exact, resulting in two Philly power play goals. In fact, through the first two periods, the power play was pretty much the only way Philly's rookies were able to generate any sort of offense. The Flyers' rookies were clearly not as talented at the Caps', but what they lacked in raw ability, they more than made up for in old school Broad Street Bully-ism. They played a very physical game, finishing pretty much all of their checks, whereas there were only one or two Caps players who seemed especially interested in throwing their bodies around. The physical play seemed to wear down the Caps' rookies eventually, and the Flyers managed to pull even with the Caps in the third period scoring two goals to put the game away.
How much can we read into the results of this game? Not much. The roster that took the ice up in Voorhees today is not a roster that will ever play in an NHL game that counts. It was a little discouraging to see the guys physically handled by the Flyers' rookies, but I think it's safe to say that it won't take too much time playing alongside the likes of Chris Clark, Donald Brashear and Alex Ovechkin will correct the problem in any of the rookies that should eventually make the team.
The most enlightening part of the day, for me at least, was the play of Karl Alzner. There's not much I can say about him that hasn't already been said. He is the real deal. I was focused on him pretty much every time he was on the ice and I don't think he ever made a mistake. There was one instance in which he and a Flyers player got in a footrace for a loose puck, and despite the fact that the Flyers player beat him to the puck clean, he still managed to somehow catch up and strip the puck, eliminating any sort of scoring opportunity. I think it is entirely possible that Alzner is already the most talented player on the team in terms of pure defensive ability. Obviously, there are alot of things he has to do besides just stopping opposing players one on one, but I wouldn't be shocked at all to see him realistically challenge for a roster spot.
With all that said, let's move on to the photos:
retired at one end of the ice. The Flyers? Have rainbows.