WASHINGTON _ Give the Washington Capitals credit. They're doing their best to intensify their rivalry with the Flyers.
In a story in today's Washington Post, Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn criticized Flyers fans for their behavior in last year's playoffs, and head coach Bruce Boudreau took some verbal jabs at Flyers enforcer Riley Cote and said Philadelphia ran up the score in a game last month.
Ah, save some of the animosity for the playoffs, boys.
The teams, of course, met in last year's Eastern Conference playoffs, with the Flyers winning a seven-game tug-of-war thanks to Marty Biron's standout goaltending. Joffrey Lupul's OT goal won a Game 7 thriller.
The Caps, who host the Flyers tonight, are still sore about the way the Philly fans supposedly treated them duirng those playoffs.
In today's Post, Morrisonn said fans were mooning the team bus ouitside the Wachovia Center last year and throwing beer bottles "and whatever they had in their hand. It's to be expected from Philly fans. Didn't they boo Santa Claus?"
Enough with that cliched incident, already.
But I digress.....
Last month, the Flyers scored a 7-1 win over the Caps despite being outshot, 48-28.Goalie Antero Niittymaki "basically stood on his head," winger Scott Hartnell said.
Boudreau thought the Flyers ran up the score and used their top forwards too late in that game.
"What goes around comes around," he told nhl.com yesterday.
In today's Washington Post, Boudreau was still snippy.
"I don't know how much they like us, but we don't like them," he said. "I think the animosity (at the end of last month's game) was more frustration on our part. We thought we had played a pretty good game, but yet we were down, 7-1. There were a lot of boiling points. They wanted to pile it on as much as possible. They were probably bummed out that their tough guy got beat up twice, so they started coming after our guys."
(Cote lost a pair of fights with former Flyer Donald Brashear.)
After today's morning skate, Flyers coach John Stevens was perturbed to be asked questions about Boudreau's comments.
“You guys can take this Boudreau stuff and you can take it somewhere else,” Stevens told reporters. “I’m not getting drawn in tit-for-tat stuff. I don’t know where this is going. Bruce coaches the Washington Capitals. I don’t care what he says. I’ve got my team to get ready here. This is obviously an important game, a hard game, and I don’t care what he said, to be honest with you. He can say what he wants. Our team plays the way we play. We’re a standup, honest hockey team, and he can save that stuff for the media outside of me because I don’t really care to hear it.”
But you can bet he will pass it along to his players before tonight's 7 o'clock game.
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Simon Gagne (shoulder) and Josh Gratton (abdominal strain) will return to the lineup tonight; Arron Asham (knee) will be a game-time decision.
_ Sam Carchidi