Keeping the Enemy at Bay

Recap: Florida Panthers & Scouting Report: Tampa Bay Lightning

Let’s just say it: most people go to southern Florida to, in one form or another, die. (That’s why there’s such killer antiquing down there!)  Judging by last night, however, our Caps don’t intend to be most people.

For the first time in a long, loooong time, we’re heading into a key contest with a four-game win streak (OK, two of them were OTs) and first place in Southeast division at our backs. Yes, there are areas of concern – our PP is still boo-worthy (but don’t go there), Ovechkin still tends to bauble easy passes and shots (although standbys Backstrom and Knubs compensate), and it seems almost impossible for the Caps to get on the board first.  Our games are consistently too close, and sloppy play like Wideman’s ill-timed slashing Sunday reliably puts us behind the eight ball.

Two of our favs - Nicky 19 and the Panthers David Booth

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

That and all the other bitching, deserved or not, said….somehow it seems to be working.  Coach Bruce “Juggles” Boudreau seems to have found mostly the right combos for his lines – 1st (Ovie, Nicky, Sturm) and 4th (Gordo, Hendy and Bradley – or the “Hooligan” line as we think of it) standing out last night, Arnott’s 2nd a bit asleep and Mojo’s 3rd workmanlike – and has clearly found the right man to tend goal.  Neuvy is clocking in with amazing performances lately (helped along by Gordon and Carlson) and we’re hopeful that soon Varly, Greenie, and Fehr will be back on ice where they belong.

From Ovie's twit-pics. We wanna see the shots he didn't tweet out.

And look…say what you want about our sleep-walking Sasha.  We do, and we still love him.  In part for moments like last night’s OT rifle-shot that gave us the GWG.  And in part because he’s still Sasha-beautiful.  (Nah, it doesn’t really work, does it.  Semin-tastic? Mmm…no, Sem-sational?.)  He’s everything we want: namely, he performs when we want him to.  HA!

OK.  The Caps still have a job to do tonight.  Mangling the Bolts.  It’s not gonna be easy; but then again, what is?

Since nabbing Dwayne Roloson, Tampa has proven elusive for the Caps – with the Bolts winning two of the last three.  On the other hand, star hottie Steve Stamkos is looking more like a nottie lately, and his production deficit may have something to do with the Bolts dropping six of their last nine.  Yzerman is a clever man – he knows his teams’ weakness (offense) and Washington’s strength (defense) means the Bolts have to come out swinging fast and hard.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

This is going to be a physical game.  And by physical we don’t mean just Hendricks laying down the hurt.  Expect the Bolts to be up in our grills from puck-drop and not let up. An early indicator for us tonight is how the Caps hit the ice.  Within the first five minutes we’ll know whether they’re ready for a whompin’ an’ a stompin’, or a nice nappy.

Oh, and we can’t forget the ice-cake. We’ve noted some of the Doltshotties previously: Stamkos, Downie, St. Louis, Lundin, Clark and suit Steve Yzerman. Yup.  Pretty much run through the roster there.

There is one guy that still catches our eye: Marc-Andre Bergeron.  Not really so much hockey-hottie, more big goof.  We grew up surrounded by guys like Bergeron.  Generally speaking, what they lack in physical heat they more than make up in other ways.

Bergeron in his "Wild" years (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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