Kris Versteeg wipes out. (Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson)
How was your weekend? The Caps won. That was cool. I bet Coach Hunter is psyched. I lost my cell phone. That sucked.
On Monday night, the Capitals hit the road again, leaving a tumultuous three-game home stand behind them. They’ll be suiting up in Sunrise, Florida, which is a ludicrous name for a city. The hosting team? The Florida Capitals.
Ahh, shoot! Florida Panthers. Sorry. But the Florida roster does sport four ex-Caps: Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Bradley, Jose Theodore, and Marco Sturm (who shouldn’t really count). How did so many Caps players end up in Florida? Over the summer, Panthers GM Dale Tallon got his checkbook out and started signing free agents all willy nilly just to reach the salary floor.
And now– somehow– the Panthers are at the top of the Southeast Division. No one saw that coming. This team was assembled from spare parts. We had joked that it was a retirement home. These guys shouldn’t have a cohesive personality, let alone a winning record. Instead, they’re 14-8-4 and they’ve commited the fewest minor penalties in the league. It’s disciplined and effective hockey they’re playing in Sunrise, which is still is a stupid name for a city.
The Capitals are in the awkward position of looking up in the standings to see another Southeast team. Florida is five points ahead of Washington, even if Washington has played one fewer game. So yeah, this one matters.
The Panthers are making a big deal out of the game. It’s Tomas Vokoun’s homecoming. Vokes played four seasons for Florida before leaving as a free agent last year. Even though the team has changed drastically, his return is a marketing ploy. This is from their site:
Let’s take a look at some Panthers players.
Tomas Fleischmann (12G, 15A, plus-14 ). Flash’s blood clot thing is ancient history. If he were still playing on the Caps, he’d be their best player. Remember who GM got in exchange for him? Scott Hannon, whom the team didn’t re-sign over the summer.
Matt Bradley (1G, 1A, even). Nothing to say here. I included him out of nostalgia. If he fights Matt Hendricks, there will be tears.
Kris Versteeg (12G, 12A, plus-13). The right winger is playing great hockey in what should become his career year.
Jose Theodore (2.28 GAA, .924 Sv%) is Florida’s number-one goalie. If the hockey gods are good, we’ll see Theo between the pipes.
On the Caps side, Mike Green is still out with a shattered babymaker. Jay Beagle is still doing the concussion thing, but he’s improving. Alex Semin is traveling with the team, but the shoulder injury he suffered after Jordan Staal’s charge may keep him out. We’ll know after the morning skate.
Can Coach Hunter string two wins together? Will the Caps’ offense come back to life? Will RMNB make a crack about Jose Theodore’s hair? Only one of these things is certain.
Puck drops at 7:30 PM on CSN. See you there.