Caps Have “Must-Win” Tonight Against Panthers
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The Washington Capitals (40-32-8, 88 points) host the Florida Panthers (37-25-18, 92 points) in their last regular season home game as the Caps playoff lives are on the line. The Caps and the Buffalo Sabres are tied with 88 points and both have two games remaining.
The Caps have the Panthers and then are at the Rangers on Saturday while the Sabres are at the Flyers and at the Bruins to end the season. The Caps own the tie-break, so the Sabres will need to beat the Caps in points to get the last playoff spot in the East. The Florida Panthers only need one point to snap the Capitals four year reign as Southeast Division champs.
Michal Neuvirth (13-13-5, 2.86 GAA, .901 Save pct.) is in goal tonight for the Caps while former Caps goalie Jose Theodore (22-15-11, 2.43 GAA, .918 Save pct.) is in goal tonight for the Panthers.
It will be Theodore’s first game playing at Verizon Center since April 17th, 2010 in game two of the first round of the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens.
Caps forward Troy Brouwer is ready to go tonight after missing yesterday’s practice for a “maintenance day”.
“Felt great in practice today,” Brouwer said.
Caps forward Alexander Semin is the only player to take his option and not take part in the morning skate today. Semin will play tonight. All eight Caps defenseman took part in the morning skate.
The Caps forward lines could look like this: Ovechin-Backstrom-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Brouwer, Aucoin-Beagle-Knuble.
Joel Ward, John Erskine, Jeff Halpern, Cody Eakin & Jeff Schultz took the extra skate today and are likely the scratches.
The Caps are 3-2 in their first five games against the Panthers this season and haven’t lost a home game to the Panthers in their last four meetings at Verizon Center.
Theodore isn’t the only former Capitals having success in Florida, Tomas Fleischmann is the leading goal scorer of the Panthers with 27. Matt Bradley, also with the Panthers, hasn’t played since February 19th after suffering a concussion.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Troy Brouwer and Matt Hendricks had to say following the morning skate today.
Dale Hunter Morning Skate Audio
Troy Brouwer Morning Skate Audio
Matt Hendricks Morning Skate Audio