Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Panthers

Who: Your Nation’s Capitals vs. Florida Panthers
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Tuesday, February 27, 7:00 pm

Broadcast Info: CSN, WTNT 570 AM; FSN Florida, WQAM 560 AM

Media Notes:
Washington Post
Washington Times
Miami Herald
South Florida Sun-Sentinel (poor bastard...)

2006-07 Standings: Caps 24-29-10, 58 points – 5th in division, 14th in conference; Panthers 24-26-13, 61 points – 4th in division, 13th in conference

2006-07 Season Series: Caps 2-3-0, Panthers 3-2-0

Last Game: January 20 in Washington, Caps lost 4-1
- A penalty-filled first period made it difficult to determine how this game would end up. The first twenty minutes saw the two teams whistled for 8 minors combined, 7 of them in the first ten minutes.
- The Caps were able to take advantage of the penalty-filled period early, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 to take an early lead just under 4 minutes into the game.
- That would be the last “good” part of the game, however, as the Caps and Panthers skated through a lackluster game that ended with the Panthers again on top, 4-1.
- Florida failed to connect on any of their ten chances with the extra man, a lone bright spot in a dismal game for the home team.
- There’s not much else to say – for whatever reason, the Panthers seem to have the Caps’ number. A team that has hovered between the middle and bottom of the pack for the past two seasons continues its dominance over the Caps, outshooting and outplaying them in the majority of their meetings since the lockout.

Things to Look for:
- Well, between now and tonight the Caps’ roster could look different. At the time this was written, Zednik has been traded to the Islanders. The Panthers, as well, could look different, although there has been no word yet on movement among their bigger names – Gary Roberts, Todd Bertuzzi (still injured), Martin Gelinas, Eddie Belfour...all potentially on the trading block for the highest bidder
- While the Caps continue to stumble through the end of the season, the Panthers have found a little life of late. 4-1-2 in their last 7 games, they have jumped over the Caps for 13th in the conference and have a 3 point lead.
- The Panthers have lost 13 games in either overtime or a shootout – the most in the league. The Caps are tied with 3 other teams for second most with 10. So if this one goes into extra time...do they both lose?
- Ovechkin has found himself mired in a slump lately (breaking news, right?) but scored an Ovechkin-esque goal in Sunday’s loss to the Devils. Whether that snaps him out of his funk for good remains to be seen, but he has been skating better over the last two games.
- With Zednik gone, the question now becomes who will fill Clark’s spot on the top line while he’s on the IR. Brashear and Zednik had been alternating shifts, but I don’t see Hanlon keeping Brash up there full time. Clymer has spent time on the top line, as has Sutherby (briefly). At this point they might as well take the opportunity to try out different combinations, see which of the young pups can possibly hang with Ovie.

Possible Lineup for the Caps

Ah, screw it...I'm sorry, I know I'm going to get in trouble for this one but I'm begging off the nicknames once more. It's only because we have no idea who is going to be in the lineup between now and the game. (Have I mentioned I HATE the trade deadline?)

If I have time I'll try to put something together after the deadline passes - if not, check back before the game on Thursday for the first post-trade deadline nicknames of the season as the Caps take on the Bolts.

Two Southeast Division matchups in a row.

Can you stand the excitement?

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