Panther Gameday: Hot Caps Host Boring But Winning Panthers!





Not a great time for your struggling offence to take on the red hot Washington Capitals, but nonetheless, that’s what we’ll have on deck tonight in the Nation’s Capital.  The Florida Panthers will bring their dull, boring, and offensively challenged unit into D.C. tonight as they take on a Caps team that has won 8 games in a row, which is their best consecutive win streak since way back in 83-84, when I was ……oh, nevermind.  Just know that I was slightly beyond my teeneage years at that point.  You do the math from here.

While the Panthers have been playing this ugly and almost unbearable style of hockey of late, they have put together a nice little streak of their own.  6-1-2 in their past nine games.  They have been able to grab points in four of their last five games, and are 3-1-1 during that span.  However, and here’s the problem part, they have scored only 6 goals in those last five games!

A boatload of players, 6 actually, have not found the net, or don’t have any points, in their last 4 to 7 games depending on who you are.  Bryan McCabe is pointless in 7, Rhino pointless in 5, and we all know that Stevie Wonder has only one goal in his last 14 games!  Yet, somehow the Panthers have found a way to win, mostly due to the fact that goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been absolutely fabulous in net.  Should he start tonight and I see no reason that he wouldn’t, it will mark start number 14 in a row as backup Scott Clemmensen continues his best impersonation of a doorman on the bench.  For obvious reasons, no need to change that up.  And someone has to lift the hatch.

If Florida is going to beat the high flying Caps, then they will need production from the top two lines, and solid defence from all four.  Shawn Matthias coming off a two goal night should get some additional playing time, and I would also like to see Kendall McArdle get some more time as well.  Possibly moving Kamil Kreps from the third line to the fourth.  Another change to make if I was coach would be to put Michal Repik on the top line with Weiss and Frolik and put Cory Stillman back with Rhino on line two where they experienced some success earlier this season.  But hey, it’s not my decision, and that’s whay I’m sitting here pounding on this keyboard, and some guy named Deboer is behind the bench.  We’ll see how this turns out eh!

As for Washington and their ever dangerous lineup, you can bet that they will be flying high and looking to score goals early and often.  Check this out, Alex the Great has 16 points in his last 7 games, and Niklas Backstrom has 12 in his last 11!  Oh and let’s not forget about Alexander Semin, he has 8 points in his last 3 games!  Fu*k, this could get ugly really fast! 

Run and gun is not the way the Cats want to play this one that’s for sure.  Nope they are going to have to try and infuse some of the Jacques Martin trap, and some of the Peter DeBoer tough to play against styles to stay in this game.  No stupid penalties, as staying out of the box is a must.  The Panthers are going to have to apply a heavy forecheck, get the puck in deep and make the Caps defencemen go into the corners and battle for the puck.

Michal Neuvirth (look at his photo, he’s not even shaving yet, and he has 7 NHL wins this year) will get the start tonight in goal for Washington as Jose Theodore (who looks like he could use a shave) nurses a hip flexor, although he could dress as the backup tonight.

So, it’s either gonna be 6-1 Washington, or 2-1 Florida with Vokoun facing 125 shots either way.

Speaking of offence a quick memo to Randy Sexton.  Did you know that Wild forward, Petr Sykora cleared waivers, isn’t reporting to the Wild’s farm team and is now a free agent, able to sign with anyone!  What the heck Randy, for the balance of the season, I still say you gotta go after this guy. 

Let’s stop settling on trying to finish eighth and let’s go for fifth or sixth!

Oh and by the way, and this has nothing to do with tonight’s game, but since Calgary will be in Florida next Friday night, the Flames are 0-6-2 in their last 8 games, and barely hanging on to the final playoff spot.  They are blowing leads too!  So Jay, you wanted to leave here because you thought the grass was greener on the other side?

Thanks for reading.


Tags: Alex Ovechkin Florida Panthers Tomas Vokoun Washington Capitals

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