Monday, December 5, 2011

Caps-Cats Preview

The Washington Capitals are in Florida tonight to take on the Southeast division leading Panthers. It's been at least 4 years since the Caps have looked up at the Panthers in the standings. Tonight's game, and every division game for that matter is a statement game now. It seems like eons ago when the Caps dominated this division. Look for the Caps to keep up their hard hitting mentality as they look to show the Panthers just how shaky their division lead is. Vokoun won't get to play against his former team this time as Neuvy will get the net for the second straight game. Michale Neuvirth played well in a 3-2 overtime victory against Ottowa two night's ago, and Dale Hunter is showing that hard work and good play will get rewarded. If Neuvy has another good game tonight, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in net again against the Senators on Wednesday.

Florida is coming off a great win in San Jose to end their road trip, and although they are playing well, they may be tired and sloppy after their trip out west. In what seems to be a recurring theme, special teams play may be the deciding factor in this one. Florida gives up over 30 shots a game, but a lot of them are blue line shots that don't really test the netminder. Their penalty kill is a solid 82.2 percent which is 17th in the league during an unusually stingy penalty killing NHL season.
The Caps are running a 1-2-2 trap scheme which is new under head coach Dale Hunter. It is something very new for the Caps, who are trying to avoid giving up odd man rushes and break aways. They are looking more and more comfortable in it, but still need to learn how to get shots on goal when transitioning to their forecheck. Florida will be a good test to see if they are getting the hang of it. Although we are getting production out of every line, it would be good to see the Caps top line lead the team in points for a change. We need success from every line, but teams are not fearing out top line like they used to, and Ovechkin is not the dangerous player he used to be, partly because he looks to pass much more than he used to.

Look for another low scoring affair in what could be a 2-1 victory for either team. Semin's status is still up in the air, so perhaps we will stay out of the penalty box. Rock the Red at home, and don't forget to send in your "Shots for Beags" pics. Use the "Contact Us" page to send in!


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