Troy Brouwer fights Erik Gudbranson after cheap shot
The Capitals don’t need to be reminded about what happened the last time they played the Flyers. Visions of Ray Emery sprinting down the ice to attack Braden Holtby are still dancing in their heads, even though it happened way back on Nov. 1.
The Caps and Flyers combined for five fights and 164 minutes in penalties in the Capitals’ 7-0 victory without Alex Ovechkin.
So, are the embers still burning from that Thrilla in South Phila? And will they turn into an inferno Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center [3 p.m., CSN]?
“We’re going to try to win a game; they’re going to try to win a game,” said Capitals right wing Joel Ward, who a hat trick in that rout over the Flyers. “I don’t think it’s going to be some Slapshot-type move.”
The Flyers were saying much of the same thing on Saturday, with many of them pointing to their lopsided loss to the Caps as an impetus to their 7-1-2 climb back into the Metropolitan Division playoff race.
The Caps are in second place in the Metro Division with 37 points, six ahead of the fifth-place Flyers. The two clubs face each other again on Tuesday night at the WellsFargoCenter, scene of Emery’s crime.
“It makes it a more intense series,” Caps right wing Troy Brouwer said. “Any time you have situations like that it’s going to make the series a little more impactful.
“As far as what happened last time it’s in the past. We’re worried about getting two points. We’re in a tough spot in our conference and two points is way more important than getting into any shenanigans.”
The last time these two teams met, the Caps built a 5-0 lead before the game deteriorated into a slugfest, with Tom Wilson fighting Wayne Simmonds, Steve Oleksy fighting Vinny Lecavalier, Alex Urbom fighting Brayden Schenn and, of course, Holtby fighting Emery.
It all started, however, with Flyers winger Steve Downie picking a fight with Aaron Volpatti, who connected with a hard right hand to Downie’s eye. Downie was later diagnosed with a concussion.
“He asked me to stop, so I held up,” Volpatti said. “If he had given me a cheap shot or started fighting me before I dropped my gloves I don’t think I would have done that. But I could tell he was hurt.”
It was an admirable show of respect on the part of Volpatti, something his teammates recognize.
“I have a lot of respect for him, but more so after that,” Brouwer said of Volpatti. “He’s a stand-up, honest guy and if a guy’s in a vulnerable position, whether it’s a fight or a hit, you hope everybody around the league would hold up, or let up knowing that a guy’s hurt.”
Brouwer followed another one of hockey’s unwritten codes when he jumped in to fight Erik Gudbranson Friday night after the Panthers defenseman leveled Caps left wing Eric Fehr with an open-ice shoulder to the chin.
“It’s just to try and keep those guys honest,” Brouwer said. “When you’re on the ice those things aren’t tolerated. Not that you have to go in and hand the guy a beating or anything, but as long as you show up and make him understand that’s not acceptable.
“I would expect anyone else to do it if they were in the same situation. Willie [Tom Wilson] has done it this year, [Michael] Latta has done it. Sometimes it’s even more lifting than a goal.”
Brouwer said that often a game like Sunday never lives up to the hype before it.
“If everyone’s waiting for something to happen,” he said, “a lot of times nothing happens.”