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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!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gameday: vs. Florida, Apr. 5

Two games to go.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Florida Panthers to Verizon Center on Thursday night as they continue their desperate search for a playoff spot. The Capitals, who lost a heartbreaker the last time out against the Lightning, are 4-4-2 in their last ten games and 40-32-8 overall for 88 standings points in 80 games.  They are therefore four points back of the Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Sabres for the final playoff spot based only on a tiebreaker. The Panthers, who lost in overtime to the Jets in their last game, are 3-2-5 in their last ten games and 37-25-18 overall for 92 standings points in 80 games.  As a result, they are in third in the East and lead the Southeast Division; they clinch their first Division title in franchise history with a point.  This is the sixth and final regular season meeting between these two teams this season; the Capitals lead the series 3-2.

Former Capital Jose Theodore is expected to get the call in goal from Kevin Dineen despite losing his last effort and allowing five goals in the process. Theodore is 22-15-11 on the year with a 2.43 GAA, .918 save percentage, and three shutouts; he made 39 saves on 41 shots in a loss the last time he faced his former mates.  Outside the crease, the Panthers only have two injuries, and they are both to grinders; former Cap Matt Bradley (upper body) and winger Jack Skille (shoulder) have both been out long term.

Dale Hunter confirmed Michal Neuvrth as his starter Wednesday, so look for the Czech rookie to receive his fourth consecutive start in the Washington nets. Neuvirth is 13-13-5 on the year with a 2.86 GAA, .901 save percentage, and three shutouts; he is 0-2 against the Panthers this season.  On the injury front, defenseman John Erskine is on injured reserve because of a lower body injury and will not play.  Winger Troy Brouwer, who was absent from practice on Wednesday, is questionable but is still expected to play.  Expect Dale Hunter to keep the lineup intact, which means Jeff Schultz the healthy scratch among defensemen and Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern, and Cody Eakin all up in the pressbox among forwards.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

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