Photo credit: Scott Audette
The Florida Panthers spent their Monday night trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-4. The Cats used five powerplay goals to fend off a third period rally from their rivals in America’s groin. By now the Panthers are probably already on their way up to Washington.
Here we go. This is the game you’ve been looking forward to. Not the rematch with Tampa, the date with Pittsburgh, or Thursday’s face-off with Jagr. You have been amped for this game: Matt Bradley, Jose Theodore, Tomas Fleischmann– all your exes are coming over for a dinner party and it’s going to be AWKWARD.
Before we do some creepy Facebook stalking on our former lovers, let’s size up the rest of Florida. Most of these guys you’ll remember from other teams because Florida is the Frankenstein’s Monster* of the NHL.
They’ve got Sean Bergenheim(1G, 0A, even), late of the Lightning and acquired seemingly because Florida had some money to burn. There he is at right. Good photo of him methinks.
Kris Versteeg (3G, 4A, even) is the real threat. Small for a forward, Versteeg is a growing threat at only 25 years old, and he’s probably the best forward they’ll dress on Tuesday night. No insults or jokes– he’s pretty good. But smells like cabbage.
There’s youngster D-man Dmitry Kulikov (0G, 1A, minus-two) who may become a force as he matures, but for now we’re just including him ’cause he’s Russian. And Erik Gudbranson (nil, nil, even), who did this to Steve Downie the other night and has our gratitude, but otherwise seems like a minor character in a Stieg Larsson book. Mountain of a man though.
Okay, let’s have fun now. Last season, Matt Bradley (0G, 0A, minus-1, bloodied) stood up to get some punch and when he got back to his chair, Jay Beagle was in it. Into free agency he went only to find a home in lovely Miami (is it Miami, right?). Matt Bradley probably wouldn’t have DiPietro’d out with Arron Asham, but Jay Beagle probably wouldn’t have spoken out of turn about Alex Semin. Matty reportedly feels bad about the violation of the locker room code, but let’s be real; this wouldn’t have been a big story had not so many people thought it true. Press Secretary C.J Cregg once said something relevant about this on The West Wing: “It’s the classic Washington scandal. We screwed up by telling the truth.”
After missing a huge chunk of last season due to another blood clot fiasco, Tomas Fleischmann (1G, 2A, plus-2) relocated from Colorado to Florida and is expected to have the bounceback season he deserves. We should be all just be glad that he is healthy and will be all up in our faces Tuesday night. No one tell him that we’ve replaced him with another Tomas because that would be weird.
And then there’s Jose Theodore, sporting a 920 SV% and one mean head of hair. Jose took bullets for his team on Monday night, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him dress for Verizon Center. That said, hopefully he’ll skip the baseball cap and let those bangs swing at concordant angles on the bench. Some people thought Theo was of middling talent, and some people obsess over his “I just work here” moment from a few years past. I prefer to think of him as the goalie who stewarded the team through their longest winning streak in history. He probably ain’t playing though, so screw him.
Instead, we’re likely to see rookie Jacob Markstrom. He’s 21 years-old and this could be his first NHL game, so break out the popcorn.
So what are we gonna do when the guys hit the ice? Manners dictate polite applause for their first shifts and then monstrous WOOP‘s every time they touch the puck thereafter. Let ‘em know you remember them, you love them, and you’re here to watch them get torn apart by your Washington Capitals. Give ‘em a standing O on their way back to the locker rooms, and then pity them quietly for being the Caps’ refuse.
After all, The Florida Panthers are a hair doll– a loosely bound amalgamation of scraps and leavings. With no personality of their own, they’ll mimic the habits of those around them. Like the creepy college roommate who downloads the MP3s you were playing just a day before, the Panthers pull crap like this:
You’ve gotta be kidding me. Powered by xfinity.
Who’s our starting goalie? Dunno, but it won’t be Michal Neuvirth, who is nursing a bruised foot. Will the Caps send in Tomas Vokoun with games against the Flyers and Wings later this week? Or will we see some HOLTBYISMS back at Verizon Center?
UPDATE: Naw, Capitals have recalled Dany Sabourin from Hershey.
Puck drop is a little after 7, so find out then. CSN will have the game, so we’ll probably have a Joe B suit for you.
Go Caps. The real ones.
* Note: Yeah, Frankenstein’s Monster. We’re sticklers for accuracy.