Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Panthers

Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Florida Panthers
Where: BankAtlantic Center
2555 Panther Parkway
Sunrise, FL 33323
When: Monday, November 13, 2006, 7:30 pm

Broadcast Information: Comcast Sportsnet, WTNT-570 AM

Media Notes:
Game Notes in PDF

2006-2007 Season Series: Caps 1-0-0, Panthers 0-1-0
2006-2007 Standings: Caps 7-5-4, 18 points - 4th in division, 9th in conference; Panthers 6-8-4, 16 points - 5th in division, 12th in conference

Last Game: 10/18/06 in Washington, Caps won 5-2
- The Caps jumped on the Panthers early, scoring 4 goals on 12 shots against Florida goaltender Alex Auld. Auld was pulled in favor of Ed Belfour, who allowed a goal by Matt Bradley only 2 minutes after stepping in to make it 5-1.
- Although the first period ended with both teams tallying 14 shots on goal, the story would change dramatically in the second period. Once again the Caps experienced a second period slump and were outshot 13-4 in the middle frame.
- The two teams combined for 9 penalties, Washington with 4 and Florida with 5. The Caps gave up 2 power play goals to the Cats' second-ranked power play, but were able to kill off a dangerous 5-on-3 chance in the second period to keep the game out of reach.
- 3 different Capitals finished the night with a +/- of 4 after the offensive explosion - the unlikely trio of Matt Bradley, Alex Semin, and Alex Ovechkin.
- Semin's goal and assist brought his points total up to 8 through 5 games (6-2-8) and put him in front of captain Chris Clark for the team scoring lead. Meanwhile, despite the 5-2 blowout, Ovie was held without a point for the first time since the season opener.

Things to Look For:
- To brush off an old standard, the Caps have to stay out of the penalty box. Penalty killing has definitely improved in the last 10 games and the Caps now sit comfortably in 15th place, but the Panthers are still 2nd in the league on the power play - no need to tempt fate there.
- Alternately, the Panthers penalty killing has been near the bottom of the league and they have taken the second most penalties this season. In their last three games, the Panthers have been shorthanded 22 times and allowed 6 power play goals during that span. The Caps have to get some offensive zone pressure going and force the Cats to take some bad penalties...
- The Panthers lost Saturday night on the road to the Devils and have now dropped 10 of their last 13 on the road, including 9 of their first 10 this season. On home ice, however, Florida is a very different team - they have 5 of their 6 wins this season in Sunrise and have proven to be very difficult to beat at home in the past few years.
- The Caps have won three of their last four games, while the Panthers come into tomorrow night's game having dropped six of their last seven and three straight. They apparently had a team meeting after their most recent loss and are showing signs of frustration with their play. That can be a good thing or a bad thing for the Caps - the Panthers will be playing desperate hockey to avoid a fourth straight loss and will likely be firing on all cylinders, but they will also be at home and may try to do too much for their home crowd. The Caps need to force turnovers and play aggressively in their own zone for a strong road game.
- Florida is playing without stalwart veteran Joe Nieuwendyk and new acquisition Todd Bertuzzi. Another injury to center Stephen Weiss on Saturday puts the Panthers very shorthanded down the middle and could give the Caps the upper hand on faceoffs and gaining the zone.

Projected Lineup for the Caps
8-Alex "Ding Dong Luongo's Gone" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Owes Olie a Beer" Zubrus, 17-Chris "Jekyll and Hyde" Clark
28-Alex "2.0" Semin, 38-Jakub "Soul Patch" Klepis, 18-Matt "Don't Call Me Princess" Pettinger
10-Matt "The Glue" Bradley, 16-Brian "The Guts" Sutherby, 27-Ben "The Glory" Clymer
43-Tomas "Like 4th Line Butter" Fleischmann, 15-Boyd "Big Scorer" Gordon, 87-Donald "K.O." Brashear

2-Brian "I Heart DC" Pothier, 26-Shaone "Jagr's Babysitter" Morrisonn
6-Jamie "Journeyman" Heward, 52-Mike "Babyface" Green
4-John "The Unexpected" Erskine, 44-Steve "Jim" Eminger

1-Brent "Heeeere's Johnny!" Johnson, 37-Olie "Blindfold and Cigarette, Please" Kolzig

Projected Lineup for the Panthers
10-Gary Roberts, 12-Olli Jokinen, 15-Jozef Stumpel
85-Rostislav Olesz, 9-Stephen Weiss (but probably not...), 16-Nathan Horton
18-Ville Peltonen, 77-Chris Gratton, 13-Juraj Kolnik
23-Martin Gelinas, 11-Gregory Campbell, 8-Joel "Kiwi" Kwiatkowski

Florida Defensemen
2-Branislav Mezei, 4-Jay Bouwmeester
24-Ruslan Salei, 26-Mike Van Ryn
5-Bryan Allen, 7-Steve Montador

20-Ed Belfour, 35-Alex Auld

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