Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Florida Panthers
Where: BankAtlantic Center
2555 Panther Pkwy
Sunrise, FL 33323
When: Thursday, February 1, 7:30 pm
Broadcast Info: CSN, WTEM 980 AM; FSN Florida, Sports Radio 560WQAM
2006-07 Standings: Caps 21-23-7, 49 points - 4th in division, 12th in conference; Panthers 19-23-10, 48 points - 5th in division, 14th in conference
2006-07 Season Series: Caps 2-2-0, Panthers 2-2-0
Last Game: January 20 in Washington, Caps lost 4-1
- The Caps seemed to be in control of this game, capitalizing on an early 5-on-3 to take the 1-0 lead. For the rest of the game, however, the Caps appeared to think a one goal cushion was the same as a five goal cushion. News flash? It's not.
- The game got off to a rocky start, with 8 penalties called between the two teams in the first 20 minutes alone. It wasn't as much that the refs were making bad calls - it was simply the fact that neither team seemed to want to play disciplined hockey, as everyone seemed to take a turn in the sin bin (and some guys twice). The Caps would eventually go shorthanded 10 times compared to Florida's 7, but would amazingly kill off all 10 - just about the only thing that went right in this game.
- Olie Kolzig faced 41 shots and turned away 38 - it speaks volumes to his performance in this one that he was named the #1 star in a losing effort.
- The Caps managed only 18 shots on Eddie Belfour, including just 3 in the second period. Through 120 minutes of play over the last two games, the Panthers outshot the Caps 96-35. Well, it's not quite a 3:1 ratio, right?
- Speaking of shots...8 individual Capitals had no shots on goal in the entire game, and no one had more than 3. Ovechkin was held to just 2 shots all night. If that's not a symbol for how the game went, I don't know what is.
- After taking a penalty on his first shift, Kris Beech was for all intents and purposes benched for the rest of the game. He had two more shifts in the first period and just one in each of the last two frames for a total ice time of 3:48.
- Faceoffs were fairly even. Yay.
Things to Look for:
- So here's the situation - the Panthers, having been beaten fairly well by the Caps in the first two games of the season, decided to exact some revenge and have gone on a rampage in the two games since. They've outshot the Caps 177-88 through all 4 meetings this year, holding the Caps to less than 30 shots in each game. Both teams are coming in off a loss on Tuesday night. Both teams have won just two of their last five games and remain one point apart; both pairs of wins have come against teams ranked higher than they are (although to be fair, who isn't ranked higher than the Caps and Cats at this point?). You may ask, what's the point? You know, you'd think I had one, but...
- Ovechkin has one goal through four games against Florida. Against all the other Southeast Division rivals he has been effective, but for whatever reason he has struggled against the Panthers. Maybe someone should tell him that not only is Luongo gone, but neither Belfour nor Auld is at this time in the same stratosphere as Luongo. Ovie's nursing a league leading 12-game point scoring streak and is perched rather pricariously atop the goal-scoring leaderboard. Ovie needs to get at least one tonight...more than one if he ate his Wheaties.
- The last meeting against Florida aside, the Caps have struggled to take the lead lately and it's a big reason for their slide. If the last game against Ottawa tells us anything, it's that it doesn't matter if you outplay the other team - at the end of the game, you still have to get one more goal than the other guys, and falling behind early makes that harder to do.
- Bottom line? The Caps aren't quite at the bottom of the conference, and they need to start playing that way. Tuesday's game was a good sign, as they continued their solid play through almost two full games in a row. If they can carry that momentum...oy. I feel like I've said that before. No ifs, they need to carry that momentum or else fall to the Panthers a third straight time. And that ain't good.
- Zednik will make his return tonight, at least according to the Post; Bradley's status remains unclear. I honestly would not want to be Hanlon - who do you bench? Common sense would say Beech, who has struggled lately despite a somewhat better performance on Tuesday, but then you have no center. I don't know. I'll just throw all of them in there and let Coach figure it out :)
8-Alex "Lucky #13" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Scored...Himself" Zubrus, 17-Chris "Gap-Toothed Grin" Clark
28-Alexander "International Man of Mystery" Semin, 21-Brooks "Semin's Sidekick" Laich, 14-Eric "Can We Keep Him?" Fehr
15-Boyd "the Glue" Gordon, 16-Brian "New Linemates, New Opportunities" Sutherby, 18-Matt "Fighting Through the Pain" Pettinger
20-Richard "Handle With Care" Zednik, 87-Donald "Throwing Checks, Breaking Hearts" Brashear, 27-Ben “-15...Yeah, Baby!" Clymer,
24-Kris "Back to Hershey?" Beech, 10-Matt "Welcome Back!!!" Bradley
(did I miss anyone?)
26-Shaone "Work the Body“ Morrisonn, 44-Steve "Roller Coaster Ride” Eminger
3-Lawrence “the All-Star” Nycholat, 52-Mike “Turnover” Green
6-Jamie “Scarface” Heward, 55-Jeff "the Silent Tower" Schultz
1-Brent “Splinters” Johnson, 37-Olie "Here We Go Again” Kolzig
Possible Lineup for the Panthers
77-Chris "Potatoes Au" Gratton, 12-Olli "I Was Only" Jokinen, 15-Jozef "Tree" Stumpel
23-Martin "I'm Like Magellan, I'm So" Gelinas, 85-Rostislav "a Lamp" Olesz, 16-Nathan Horton "Hears a Who"
9-Stephen Weiss, 18-Ville "Fur" Peltonen, 46-David "Kissing" Booth
54-Kamil Kreps "Suzette", 13-Juraj "Lump of" Kolnik, 11-Gregory "Neve" Campbell
4-Jay "Bad Boy" Bouwmeester, 5-Bryan "Ethan" Allen
24-Ruslan "One Horse" Salei, 26-Mike "Livin' in a" Van Ryn "Down by the River!"
8-Joel "Kiwi" Kwiatkowski, 7-Steve "Burnt Out Flame" Montador
20-Ed "the Balding Eagle" Belfour, 35-Alex Auld "Lang Syne"
Special thanks to hockeygirl for her assistance!