Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Capitals/Panthers Preview

Washington Capitals (21-23-7, 49 points)
Florida Panthers (19-23-10, 48 points)

Television: Comcast Sportsnet
Radio: Sportstalk 980-AM
Gametime: 7:30 PM ET

The Caps head to the Sunshine state for the second game on their current three game road trip. It will be a return to the venue where they were thoroughly embarrassed almost three weeks ago by the last place Panthers 7-3.

After the Caps had won the first two match ups of the season, Florida seems to have the their number as of late, following up their dominating win in Miami with an equally strong effort in Washington January 20th. That 4-1 loss at home was demoralizing for the Caps as they had to live with the result throughout the week long All-Star break. It also came one night after an inspiring win at Carolina that seemed to be a turning point kind of win.

Washington will try to build on the solid effort they had in Ottawa to help them change their luck against the Panthers. Alex Ovechkin was spectacular in that game and he will look to extend his career long point scoring streak to 13 games. The Caps can expect to face Ed Belfour in goal as he has a 2-0-0 record with a 1.80 gaa against them this season.

The Panthers are coming off a game Tuesday night in which they were shut out by the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 in Pittsburgh. Speaking of the Penguins, TSN reported during an intermission in the Maple Leafs/Rangers game, that significant progress has been made in talks between the team and the city on a deal for a new arena. Although they made it clear that no deal has been reached yet, it looks as though the Penguins will stay where they belong.

As reported from Washington Post's Tarik El-Bashir, Matt Bradley met the team in Miami and will be a game-time decision. Richard Zednik should also return to the lineup after missing 24 games with a sports hernia.

This is once again one of those must win games as a loss would drop the Capitals into last place in the Southeast Division.

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