Weekend in Florida Preview

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, February 13, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (34-16-5-73, first in Southeast) do the Florida two-step this weekend, facing the Tampa Bay Lightning (19-25-11-49, fourth in Southeast) Saturday night at 7:3o pm from the St. Pete Times Forum, and the Florida Panthers (28-19-8-64, second in Southeast) Saturday night from the BankAtlantic Center at 5:00 pm.

The Caps can go a long way in crushing the dreams of anyone thinking they can catch them this weekend. However, the annual Retirement State Swing hasn't always been kind to the Caps. Washington has a losing record in the state of Florida since the lockout.

Combine that with the fact that the Capitals have a 4-5-1 record in the second half of back-to-back games this year, and the Caps have their work cut out for them.

As if that wasn't enough to make you nervous already, this weekend is their "Mentor's Trip", where the players bring along their dads and other mentors, so their focus might not be solely on hockey. Which, come to think of it, for this team may or may not be a significant problem.

And for good measure, let's add in a rookie goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, probably making his NHL debut in one of the games.

The Red get back a missing sniper though, as Alexander Semin should play after missing Wednesday's OT loss in New York. They won't be so lucky with injured winger Viktor Kozlov. Kozlov (strained groin) ended his practice skate early and will probably not be ready this weekend.

The biggest thing to look forward to, besides attempting to come home with four points, is Mike Green's attempt to break the record he has already tied for most consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman, a record he shares with Mike O'Connell of the Boston Bruins. Green leads all defensemen in goals (21) and points (49), and has definitely entered his name into serious Norris Trophy candidacy.

WAS: PP-4th (23.4%, 54/231); PK-21st (79.6%, 54/265)
TBY: PP-22nd (16.7%, 40/239); PK-19th (80.8, 52/271)
FLA: PP-26th (15.8%, 33/209); PK-13th (81.8, 40/220)