The Caps host the Panthers tonight out at the MCI and as the team approaches the Olympic break (and before long the trade deadline) questions abound. Should the team trade Jeff Friesen? Which of the injured players, if any, will be healthy enough to go tonight? Which of the kids will be in the lineup? Will the Caps (0-3-1) beat Florida this year? If I had to guess, my answers would be yes, if they can; only Chris Clark; Eric Fehr and Mike Green (though it may be nice to see Doug Doull called up for these last three games before the break) and yes. But those would just be guesses.
As Mike Vogel notes, special teams will likely again be the key tonight:
Florida’s power play has eight goals in 19 opportunities (42.1%) against Washington. The Panthers have 35 power play goals in 264 chances (13.3%) against the rest of the NHL.Step one: stay out of the box. Step two: kill off any penalties you take. Step three: take advantage of opportunities you are given. Easier said than done, I know, but at least it's a plan.
The Caps have scored only three power play goals of their own in the four games against Florida. Washington is 3-for-24 (12.5%) with the extra man against the Cats this season.
Elsewhere, 'roud the rinks:
- Henrik Sedin and Ryan Miller are your NHL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.
- Wonder why some high profile goalies are having trouble so far this year? Curtis Joseph explains that it has to do with the new rules. (Tip of the cap to Hayden84 on the find).
- Happy 38th Birthday to Caps all-time leading scorer Peter Bondra. Wish you were here, Petey, but not at the price you were asking.
- According to the Hockey Hall of Fame, on this day in 1876 "The first documented use of the work'puck' was mentioned in a story in the Montreal Gazette."
- Hart: Martin St. Louis (Game-tying goal with just over a minute left in regulation, game-winning assist in OT, +3)
- Ross: Peter Schaefer, Robyn Regehr, Patrick Marleau, David Vyborny (3 points each)
- Norris: Robyn Regehr (3 assists)
- Vezina: Sean Burke (W, 2 goals against on 30 shots)
- Richard: Peter Schaefer, Ryan Smyth, Rick Nash (2 goals each)
- Calder: Corey Perry (Goal, assists, +1)
- Aiken: Marc Denis (L, 4 goals against on 10 shots before being pulled after one period, only to be forced back in for the third to give up another 3 goals on 12 shots)