Following Sunday’s post-game handshake between the Capitals and Flyers, which remains one of the most honorable traditions in professional sports, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was skating off the Wells Fargo Center ice when several Flyers fans began screaming at him.
But it wasn’t what you (or he) might expect.
“Go beat the Penguins!” a fan yelled. Followed by another, and another. Until it became a mini-chant.
As a reward for surviving a six-game series that featured 403 hits (205 by the Flyers, 198 by the Caps) the Capitals get to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who rolled over the New York Rangers in five games, outscoring them 21-10.
“It should be a lot of fun,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. “They’re hot right now. They were hot the whole end of the season. I watched a lot of their (first-round) series and they were good, scoring a lot of goals.
“It’s going to be a serious test from that team. It’s cool to stay in the state of Pennsylvania, not too far of a trip for us.”
The Capitals will be given the day off on Monday and are expected to begin preparations for the Penguins on Tuesday. The schedule for the second round is expected to be announced at the conclusion of Round 1, which could come as soon as Monday or as late as Wednesday, depending on the outcome of the Anaheim-Nashville series.
Thanks to winning the Presidents’ Trophy the Capitals will open their second-round series against the Penguins at Verizon Center, with possible starting dates of Thursday orSaturday. (Justin Bieber is performing at Verizon Center on Friday).
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Caps right wing Marcus Johansson, who assisted on Nicklas Backstrom’s game-winning goal on Sunday. “I think the farther you get the more fun it gets. I can’t wait to get started. It’s the best thing there is, to play playoff hockey and keep going on.”
The Caps went 2-2-1 against the Penguins in their five regular season matchups. Sidney Crosby gathered one goal and three assists in the season series, while Alex Ovechkin was held without a point.
“Both are fast teams,” said Flyers left wing Jake Voracek, who was held to one goal in six games against the Caps. “It’s going to be a great series.
“I don’t know if I’ll watch because I need to rest up, but it’s going to be a great series. Two very good teams. Pittsburgh is playing well from what I saw. I’m not going to say who’s going to win or who’s going to lose. It’s too bad it’s not us.”
The Flyers put up quite a fight in their series against the Caps, with former Caps netminder stopping 101 of 103 shots. When the ice shavings settled and the two teams shook hands at center ice, all of the bad blood between the two teams seemed to melt away.
“Actually, a lot of guys were pushing us along, telling us to win,” Alzner said. “It’s funny, because you hate those guys so much when you’re playing them.
“You think everything they do is cheap. You’re friends with one guy and then all of sudden you won’t even wave to him when he walks by you. And then the handshake comes and it’s all good.”
Until the next series.