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Saturday Roundup/Gamenight: Panthers @ Caps

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

The Florida Panthers make their third visit to our nation's capital on Saturday night and the Caps will try to be something other than the gracious hosts they've been through the first two games, a pair of one-goal Panther wins.

The Kitties are coming off a thrilling 2-1 win over the Devils in Jersey on Friday night (yawn), as Craig Anderson outdueled Martin Brodeur between the pipes. Seriously.

With Anderson going last night, the Caps can expect to see Tomas Vokoun on Saturday. Vokes is 1-7-1 with a 3.31 goals against average since December 28, but is 3-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA and .947 save percentage against the Caps on the year. Memo to Caps skaters: remember that this guy catches with his right hand - aim accordingly (interestingly, right-handed catching goalies - Vokoun, Rick DiPietro and Jose Theodore - are 5-3-0 with a 1.85 GAA and .930 SV% against the Caps on the season). At the other end of the ice will be Brent Johnson (a decision documented more extensively here).

Things are lining up in the Caps' favor for tonight. The Panthers are 3-4-2 in the second of back-to-back games on the season (and are coming off that surprising win at Jersey in which they were outhit 19-3); the Caps are 10-8-3 with one day off. The Panthers are 2-10-2 on weekends, while the Caps are 7-5-1 in Saturday/Sunday games. And so on.

The Panthers are just what the Caps need in an opponent tonight - a beat-up, soft team with a cold goalie that can't score coming off a tight road game the night before. So why does this game scare the hell out of me?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Have the Blue Jackets been scouting the Caps? Probably not.... The current installment of NHL.com's Southeast Division Notes focuses on Nicklas Backstrom.... The sky is falling! A Southeast Division team is guaranteed the third seed in the East!... Holy crap - a writer in Montreal might be on the verge of almost considering possibly thinking about taking the Caps seriously.... Oh, and if you were planning to take Metro to and/or from tonight's game, you might want to reconsider.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Drew Stafford (3G, including the game-winner, 2A, +3, 6 SOG)
  • Ross: Drew Stafford (5 points)
  • Norris: Dmitri Kalinin (3A, +4, 4 SOG)
  • Vezina: Johan Holmqvist (27-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Drew Stafford, Derek Roy, Daymond Langkow, Eric Staal (3G each)
  • Calder: Tobias Enstrom (+1 in 20-plus minutes of a 10-1 loss deserves recognition)
  • Aiken: Johan Hedberg (L, 7 goals allowed on 28 shots against in 31:21 of work)