As Adam Kimelman of NHL.com pointed out today, tomorrow night the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals are going to go head-to-head for the first time this season.
That means that two recently acquired big name goaltenders – Ilya Bryzgalov and Tomas Vokoun – are going to do battle for the first time since joining their new teams. Call me crazy, but isn’t this the first time in many, many years that these two teams have played and the story has been great goaltending?
On January 19th of this year, I wrote an article for Hockey Primetime.com that said, in a nutshell, the Flyers and Capitals are wasting great rosters by having less-than-quality goaltending. You know who else made that point? Pretty much everyone. Well, the two GMs finally listented. (I should probably mention that in Varlamov’s defense, he’s off to a fantastic start this season.)
After five games, the Capitals are 5-0-0, which is sort of good. The Flyers are way behind them at 4-0-1, which brings the two teams to a combined loss-total of zero.
Tomas Vokoun came out of the gate a little shaky in his first performance, but was bailed out by his high octane offense. (The second half of that sentence wasn’t written very often prior to this year.)
Since then, he’s got his numbers back to brilliant: 4 games, 4 wins, 1.94 GAA, .935 save percentage, with 1 shutout. Bryzgalov is only a step behind him at 3-0-1 with a 1.99 GAA and .927 save percentage with 1 shutout.
It’s a bit of an “I told you so” moment for a lot of fans and media, but it also puts things in perspective: these two teams suddenly look like the Stanley Cup frontrunners. They have in the past, but this year we get to take them seriously.
They’ll be doing battle tomorrow night on TVs around Canada and the US (it’s on the NHL Network in the US, which is sweet for me. And hey, I’m pretty sure just about every game is on in Canada, so that’s fun). We may even get to see the debut of highly touted rookie Brayden Shenn for the Flyers, which is worth something too.
All I know is, it should be a doozy of a game. Great offenses firing at rock solid goaltending. Be sure to tune in with me so we can argue about things on Twitter.