Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gameday: at Florida, Feb. 17

The biggest game of the year.
The Washington Capitals are in Sunrise, Florida, this evening to take on the Panthers as they begin a road trip that is critical to help them try and save their season.  The Capitals, losers of three consecutive games, are 3-4-3 in their last ten games and 28-23-5 overall for 61 standings points in 56 games.  Those 61 points place them second in the Southeast Division, four back of these Panthers, and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference.  The Panthers, on the other hand, who were pasted by the Senators in their last game, are 6-3-1 in their last ten and 27-18-11 overall for 65 standings points in 56 games.  They are therefore first in the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  This is the fifth of six meetings between these two clubs this season; the series is split 2-2.  Tonight's game is arguably the most important regular season contest they have played in four years; they cannot afford to come out flat.

Former Capital Jose Theodore is expected to get the call in goal from Kevin Dineen after appearing in relief during Florida's last game.  Theodore, who recently missed a long spell with a knee injury, is 15-9-5 on the year with a 2.48 GAA, .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Panthers will be without defensemen Jay Garrison (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (hand), and Dmitry Kulikov (knee), as well as forwards Marco Strum (knee) and Scottie Upshall (hernia).

Tomas Vokoun should start for Dale Hunter after allowing 2 goals on 27 shots in his last outing against the Jets over a week ago; he had been forced to miss the last two games with a bad flu.  Vokoun is 22-13-2 on the year with a 2.40 GAA, .920 save percentage, and four shutouts on the year, and has been a backbone for the Capitals over the last seven weeks.  On the injury front, both Mike Green (sports hernia surgery) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) are out and will not play.  Winger Mike Knuble, who has been scratched over the last three games for absurd reasons, should return to the lineup, with Keith Aucoin heading to the bench in his place.  Look for John Erskine to be the healthy scratch on defense.

Puck drops for this one 7:38-ish.

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