Friday, January 29, 2010

Caps vs. Panthers 1-29-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (35-18; 76 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 3rd Overall) vs. Florida Panthers (23-30; 55 points; 3rd Southeast Division, 10th Eastern Conference, 23rd Overall):
Caps Game #54, Home Game #26, NHL Game #802

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: 38 Atlanta and Tampa Bay

Southeast Division Championship: 38 Atlanta and Tampa Bay
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 54 New Jersey
President's Trophy: 59 San Jose


Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. Florida TV: Fox Sportsnet Florida. Radio: WAXY 790-AM.  NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and Fox Sportsnet Florida feeds.

Tonight the Caps look for their ninth win in a row when they host the Florida Panthers for the third and final time this season.  This will be the fifth of six games between the two teams this season and the Caps have won all four of the previous meetings including the one 16 days ago in Sunrise in a gimmick to start this nine game winning streak.  The Panthers have clawed themselves into the Eastern Conference playoff picture and are currently in a three-way tie with the Rangers and Canadiens for 8th place.  Florida has won five of their last seven games including two in a row.  In their last outing on Tuesday night, they defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on home ice.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostExaminer.  Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Miami Herald.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

Tonight the Caps play the first of three straight games at home and three of their next five games against Southeast Division teams.  Divisional opponents that the Caps currently have an average lead over of only 32 points with the closest one, Atlanta, a meager 20 points back.  So hopefully there won't be any talk from the likes of Tom Poti this time around about "burying" the rest of the division, mostly because it has already been done.  We have a sneaking suspicion that for the Caps to extend their winning streak tonight they're going to continue to need the solid goaltending that they've been receiving so far.  We don't necessarily care who gets the start in goal tonight but the Caps don't want to have to depend upon the offense to bail them out even though the Caps have scored 21 goals against the Panthers in regulation play so far this season.  Because when the offense cools off from it's 5+ goals a game pace is when the streak is going to end.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 5
Panthers 2
Winner Knuble
(26-27 on the season with one perfect game)

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