Long time no see: The Capitals and Flyers haven't met in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1989. That year, Washington qualified for post-season play as the top team in the Patrick Division but the Flyers, led by goaltender Ron Hextall, defeated the Capitals in six games.
Rock bottom to Penthouse: When the Capitals visited the Flyers on Nov. 23 they had the NHL's worst record (6-14-1). After their Feb. 6th 4-3 win over the Flyers, they had moved to the top of the Southeast Division. It was the first time they had held a division-lead since Mar.14/03 -- the last season the Capitals made the playoffs.
Season recap: Three of their four meetings this season were decided by one goal with the only two-goal margin of victory coming courtesy of an empty net goal (Flyers won 6-4, Jan. 13).
Stanley Cup rookies: 24 players will be making their Stanley Cup playoff debut – 15 players for Washington (C Nicklas Backstrom, D Steve Eminger, D John Erskine, RW Eric Fehr, LW Tomas Fleischmann, C Boyd Gordon, D Mike Green, D Milan Jurcina, C Brooks Laich, LW Quintin Laing, D Shaone Morrisonn, LW Alexander Ovechkin, D Jeff Schultz, LW Alexander Semin and C David Steckel) and nine players for Philadelphia (G Martin Biron, D Braydon Coburn, LW Riley Cote, RW Steve Downie, D Randy Jones, D Lasse Kukkonen, D Ryan Parent, LW Patrick Thoresen and RW Denis Tolpeko).
Former Flyer: Washington's Donald Brashear played for the Flyers from 2001 to 2006, appearing in 37 playoff games and helping them reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.
Special Teams: Philadelphia is the number one penalized team in the Eastern conference averaging 17.9 penalty minutes-per-game while Washington sits as the second least penalized team in the East averaging 11.9 penalty minutes per game -- Washington's Ovechkin led the League with 22 power-play goals, while Philadelphia finished second in the League with a 21.8 powerplay percentage.
NHL Playoff Appearance: 19th (1st since 2003)
Last Playoff Series Win: 1998 (Conference Final vs. Buffalo)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 10-18
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 69-85
Nov. 22/07 -- Bruce Boudreau is named interim coach after the team gets off to a League-worst 6-14-1 record, including losses in nine of 10 games. The Capitals are 14 points behind the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes. Washington's offense is ranked 28th in the League and Alex Ovechkin has 14 goals.
Dec. 26/07 -- The 'interim' tag is removed from Boudreau's title. He goes on to compile a 37-17-7 record and help the Capitals become the first team in NHL history to make the playoffs after standing 14th or 15th in the conference at midseason. They were 15th and last as late as Dec. 30.
Jan. 10/08 -- Capitals sign Alex Ovechkin to 13-year, $124-million contract.
Feb. 28/08 --
Capitals GM George McPhee
obtains G Cristobal Huet
from Montreal for a second-round pick in 2009, F Sergei Fedorov
from Columbus for Ted Ruth
and W Matt Cooke
from Vancouver for F Matt Pettinger
. The Capitals go 14-4 following the deals.
April 5/08 --
Huet wins his ninth straight start after Fedorov blasts a shot past Florida's Craig Anderson
at 15:03 of the second period to snap the final tie of the regular season and send the Capitals on to the Southeast Division title.
Ten Minutes' Notice:
Boudreau, whose 17-season hockey career included 141 NHL games, was coaching the Capitals' AHL team in Hershey when Bears president-GM Doug Yingst called him at 6:50 a.m. on Nov. 22 and told him Caps GM George McPhee
would be in touch shortly. McPhee phoned about 10 minutes later. "He said, 'You're coming up here,'" recalled Boudreau, who in his debut season with Hershey (2005-06) had steered the Bears to the Calder Cup. "Then your heart drops and you go, 'Oh, wow, it's happening.' The next thing I know, I'm lost in downtown Washington."
Ovechkin scored 51 of his goals in the 61 games after Boudreau took over and set the single-season NHL record for goals by a left wing, surpassing the 63 Luc Robitaille
ran up with the Los Angeles Kings
in 1992-93 . . . His 65 goals for the season are the most an NHL player has scored since Mario Lemieux
in 1995-96. Only 10 players in hockey history have ever scored more . . . Ovechkin becomes only the sixth player in the past 37 years (and the first Russian-born player ever) to lead the League in goals and points in the same season, joining a group that includes Wayne Gretzky
, Mario Lemieux
, Phil Esposito
, Jarome Iginla
and Guy Lafleur
. . . He also leads the NHL in power-play goals (22) and game-winning goals (11).
What A Finish!:
The Capitals finished their season by winning their final seven games (all in the Division), 11 of the concluding 12 and 14 of the final 18.
What A Finish, Part II:
The Capitals conclude the regular season with the top goal scorer in the League (Alex Ovechkin
, 65), the top overall scorer in the League (Ovechkin, 112 points), the NHL shot leader (Ovechkin took 446, second-most in history to the 550 by Boston's Phil Esposito
in 1970-71), top goal scorer among defensemen (Mike Green
, 18) and the second-leading scorer among rookies (C Nicklas Backstrom
, whose 14-55--69 was only surpassed by Chicago's Patrick Kane
--21-51--72) and the rookie leader in face-off victories (David Steckel
Look Who's Here:
The Capitals drew crowds of 17,000 or more to their final 14 home games, sold out the final four and six of the concluding 10. The Capitals averaged 13,643 in their first 20 home games and over 17,000 in the remaining home games after Ovechkin signed his new contract.
What a difference a year makes:
22-year old defenseman Mike Green
registered the biggest point increase among all NHL players from 2006-07 to 2007-08 (among players who played in at least 60 games). Green's 44-point increase came after totaling 56 points (18-38-56) this season as compared to 12 points (2-10-12) in 2006-07. His 44-point increase was seven points better than Montreal Alex Kovalev
's 37-point increase. Green's 18 goals are four more than he has ever scored in a single season at the junior or pro level (14 with the junior Saskatoon Blades in both 2003-04 and 2004-05).
That's A Plus:
Ovechkin also went from minus-19 in 2006-07 to plus-28 in 2007-08.
NHL Playoff Appearance:
32nd (first since 2005-06)
2 (1974, 1975)
Last Playoff Series Win:
2004 (Conference Semi-Final vs. Toronto)
All-Time Playoff Series Record:
All-Time Playoff Game Record:
Oct. 4/07 --
Prized free agent acquisition C Daniel Briere
scored two goals, including the breakaway winner late in third period, as the Flyers opened the season with a 3-2 victory at Calgary.
Dec. 11/07 --
RW Joffrey Lupul
and C R.J. Umberger
each recorded hat tricks, with Lupul adding three assists for a career-high six points, in an 8-2 victory over Pittsburgh. It marked the first time since Mar. 7, 1985 that two Flyers recorded hat tricks in the same game (Tim Kerr
and Dave Poulin).
Feb. 19/08 --
The Flyers obtained D Jaroslav Modry
from Los Angeles for a 3rd-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.
Feb. 25/08 --
The Flyers snapped a 10-game winless slide with a 4-3 comeback victory at Buffalo. The Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit for the win, capped by former Sabre Daniel Briere
scoring the decisive goal in the shootout.
Feb. 25/08 --
The Flyers acquired LW Vaclav Prospal
from Tampa Bay for D Alexandre Picard and either a second or third-round draft pick in 2009.
Mar. 15/08 --
C Mike Richards
scored in his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nine games in a 3-2 overtime loss at Boston. The Flyers went 5-2-2 without their leading scorer.
The Flyers finished the 2007-08 regular season with 95 points (42-29-11), a 39-point improvement over 2006-07 (22-48-12, 56 points). They were the NHL's most improved club, ahead of Washington (+24), Boston (+18), Chicago (+17), Edmonton (+17) and Phoenix (+16).
Most improved 2 - defensive turnaround:
The Flyers made the League's biggest defensive turnaround from last season. The team reduced their goals-against by 70 from 303 in 2006-07 to 233 in 2007-08.
Roller coaster ride:
The Flyers posted a 6-1-0 record to start the season, went 7-0-1 from Jan. 5-20, lost seven consecutive games in regulation Feb. 6-17 and rebounded with a 6-1-1 mark from Mar. 18-Apr. 4 that clinched a playoff berth.
Carrying the load down the stretch:
G Martin Biron
appeared in 18 of Philadelphia's final 20 games of the season, posting a 10-4-4 record. Biron, 30, will be making his Stanley Cup playoff debut. A first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres
in 1995, he ranks second on that franchise’s all-time goaltending list in shutouts (18), third in games (300) and third in victories (134). He enters the postseason with a career regular-season mark of 170-143-40 with a 2.57 goals-against average and 23 shutouts in 378 games.
The Flyers will benefit from the playoff experience of their 2007-08 veteran acquisitions. C Daniel Briere
was co-captain of the Sabres club that went to the Eastern Conference Final in 2006 and 2007; LW Scott Hartnell
and D Kimmo Timonen
made three consecutive playoff appearances with the Nashville Predators
from 2004 through 2007, with Timonen serving as captain last season; D Jason Smith
's five-season tenure as Edmonton Oilers
captain included that club's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006; C Jim Dowd
appeared in 82 postseason games and won a Stanley Cup ring with the New Jersey Devils
in 1995; and LW Vaclav Prospal
will be skating in his eighth Stanley Cup playoffs.