I hope the Caps can get fired up to play the Panthers more easily than I can to write about 'em.
Here's the quick rundown on the Kitties - they have the fewest home wins in hockey, are in the bottom half of the League in goals scored and allowed, have a good power play and a bad penalty kill, give up the most shots per game in the League, have lost two in a row and, well, you know the story on Richard Zednik.
On the Caps side of things, you know that Tom Poti is questionable (a line that's sure to get a grin from Ranger fans) for tonight's game, which means he's not playing, and while the goaltending has been very good (tonight is Brent Johnson's turn to keep it going, and he has very strong season and career numbers against Florida), the offense has run and hid against Southeast Division opponents since the All-Star break, scoring just three goals in three games, all losses.
So there it is. Another game that, on paper, the Caps should be able to win. Then again, intra-divisional road games when you're missing two top-four defensemen, your number one center and a 30-goal-scoring winger are never, ever easy and I wouldn't expect this one to be. Then again, have any of them been easy?
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
I'll take the under on Sidney Crosby being able to take 20 five-year-olds in a fight (and I base this on Donald Brashear, by my math, being able to take 23)... Finally, one year ago today we discussed a potential trade rumor, a surprise demotion and a roster shuffle and previewed the evening's Caps/Bolts game, and two years ago today we recapped Day One for Caps Olympians and passed along a very special birthday wish.
Hart: Jonathan Toews (2G, including the game-winner, A, +3, 3 SOG)
Ross: 8 players tied with 3 points each
Norris: Alex Edler (2G, A, +3, 4 SOG)
Vezina: Manny Legace (W, 39 saves on 40 shots against)
Richard: Ruslan Fedotenko, Jonathan Toews, Alex Edler, Stephane Veilleux (2G each)
- Calder: Jonathan Toews (2G, including the game-winner, A, +3, 3 SOG)
Aiken: Chris Mason (L, 3 goals allowed on 7 shots against in just 12:42 of work)