How can Flyers neutralize Alex Ovechkin?
Ray Emery skated the length of the ice to fight Braden Holtby in the last meeting between the Flyers and Capitals. (USA Today Images)
Five quick weeks have past since the Washington Capitals came into Wells Fargo Center and humiliated the Flyers, 7-0.
A game that ended with 18 Flyers penalties for 99 minutes.
With Vinny Lecavalier suffering a facial injury during one of four fights.
With Steve Downie being concussed in a fight.
With goalie Ray Emery going the length of the ice to pound on Braden Holtby, then earning an embarrassing “Star of the Game,” to further enrage both organizations.
"It might be in the back of the head, but at the same time you have to forget about something like that,” Downie said on Saturday.
“You can use it for a little bit of extra motivation, but we shouldn't need that extra motivation. We are right behind them in points to get into the playoffs and these two games are probably the biggest of the year so far.”
With every loss, you learn something. With that loss, the Flyers snapped out of their coma, going 7-1-2 over their next 10 games in what would become the “turnaround” for Craig Berube’s team.
Which brings us to Sunday afternoon in Washington, then Tuesday here at Wells Fargo Center, as the Flyers face the Caps in a home-and home series against a team holding down second place in the Metropolitan Division.
So what’s the carryover – if any?
“Oh, I don't know,” Emery mused. “It was a frustrating game. It was an embarrassing game. And we have a good team, so we weren't happy with the way we were playing. And I think it was inevitable that we turned it around.
“I think any time you lose, seven-nothing, you remember. I think we will be prepared. ... I think we want to win hockey games. Like I said, I think we remember the loss.”
Wayne Simmonds said the Flyers are prepared for whatever may or may not transpire at Verizon Center.
“I don’t know if we’re going to attack this or if they pursue us or how it will work,” Simmonds said. “But we play for one another in this dressing room. That will never change, regardless what team we are facing or playing against.”
Craig Berube the player would have had retribution on his mind. He was that kind of player.
Craig Berube the coach, however, sees it differently now. He has to. He’s the coach.
“Why,” Berube asked, would there be carryover? “We’re gonna try to win the game. They should have it in the back of their mind that we got embarrassed 7-0.
“That’s it. You don’t want to lose a hockey game like that any time. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it and approach it. It’s nothing more than that.”
Since that game, the Flyers are 11-6-3. The numbers speak for themselves, although their recent 2-3-1 road excursion would suggest the Flyers still have a long way to go to get themselves firmly situated as a playoff team.
Scott Hartnell said the Flyers need to focus on getting points in these two games against Washington. As of Saturday, they remained two points out of a playoff spot.
“We got to win … not worry about what happened a month ago,” Hartnell said. “There will be some emotions and it will be a physical game for sure. We want to beat them on the scoreboard.
“That’s kinda what they did to us a month ago. That was a big wake-up call for us when it happened and we went on a little bit of a run afterwards.
“You look at these next four games before the [Christmas] break. They are absolutely huge games for us. They are winnable games, as well. We have to be prepared mentally and play hard, consistent hockey and get points.”
The previous Caps game was so long ago at least one Flyer admitted any thoughts of retribution never occurred to him.
“I don’t think there will be any carry over,” Jakub Voracek said. “We lost the game 7-0. Nothing you want to carryover from that.
“If you didn’t remind of that, I would not even know. Eventually, I would find out. I didn’t even think about it. We played so many games since then, pretty important games.
“We just have to make sure we contribute and play some pretty good hockey, be ready to play and get two points.”
One more thing. Captain Claude Giroux isn’t saying anything special about this one, either.
“I think everybody knows. I think the guys are pretty smart,” he said. “They know that last time we played them, they kind of embarrassed us in front of our fans, so we need to keep that in our mind, for sure.”
Look for Jay Rosehill to dress for this game. … Sean Couturier missed practice to attend his grandmother’s funeral, the club said. … As part of the club’s annual “Fathers/Sons” get-together, a number of dads, who attended Thursday’s game against Montreal, will travel to Washington for this game, as well. … Steve Mason is expected to be in net.