Here’s Doug Johnson of the PuckBuddys with your penultimate pregamer. Follow @PuckBuddys.

Early Morning Skate: Our doctor advises those of you with heart issues, temper problems, or who are prone to premature catastrophization to avoid watching the Capitals Thursday night. In fact, why not just turn the TV and iPad off and curl up into a little whimpering ball right now.

The rest of us? We few… we lucky few… are ready for, and this is no hyperbole, the single most cosmically important game for any team since the beginning of time. That said, will the Capitals be ready as well?

Alex Semin

As Peter noted, there are a variety of ways this thing could still go, but all paths to gooey hockey goodness start with us, and Florida’s defeat. This season has defied analysis in large measure due to the unpredictable, up-and-down, shaked-then-baked nature of Washington’s play game to game. One night we’re out of the box like a rifle shot, knocking solid teams off their skates and never letting up. The next, we look like the Glen Burnie Men’s Retiree Club without their Metamucil.

The most cogent analysis we’ve cooked up: heart. Those bad games, they wear on their faces.  When we look at the bench during those bad night, we can see that they just don’t believe in themselves and have already given up.

We’re not giving up, Brave Men in Red, and we believe you haven’t, either. That’s why you must defeat Florida. There are so many permutations of possible outcomes between now and Saturday night, that it makes our hair hurt (or what’s left of it), just trying to comprehend. But for the Caps, as Tim Russert said, it all comes down to, “Florida, Florida, Florida.”  But luckily for us, we don’t have a Supreme Court interfering and screwing things up – this one is on us, all us. No dangling chads this time, just dangles. Dangles, dekes, curls, drags, SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS, CRASHING and SCOARING!

The Non-Stat-Tastic Taunting Pregame

People – annoying people, mostly – say that “Washington was built on a swamp.” Haha, but it wasn’t and they’re ass-butts. What is true is that Florida was a swamp, and now has been converted into America’s Garbage Pile of stuff the rest of us don’t want anymore. Think about it: Backstreet Boys. Katherine Harris. Paula Hawkins. Dave Barry. Charlie Crist. All that refuse that sensible types toss away, wanting to forget their mistakes? It just sorta tumbles down the continent and collects in our national sewer. You think we’re kidding about this garbage stuff? The highest elevation in Florida is a measly 345 feet above sea level – that is if you don’t include the state’s approximately 100 landfills. That’s the real FLorida topography.

So just imagine the sort of  goblins that inhabit Sunrise, Florida – the non-ironically-yet-oh-so-tragically-named home of the Panthers. Tod Browning’s Freaks had nothing on this place. Gooble-gobble, they’re awful. And they’re also kinda the recycling heap of the Washington Capitals (which we think unfairly taints the noble cause of recycling.)  “Flash” Fleischmann. “Brads” Bradley. “Blitzkreig” Sturm. And José “Still So Hot” Theodore. You could be forgiven for thinking this team is just a collection of old rubber bands and dirty doggie-bags…except. Except for the fact that we’ve pretty much been looking up their skirt all season.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have their number on speed-kill-dial.

The Throw Down in China Town

  • Home and Away. Four times we’ve met this year. Twice here, twice down in the urinal / litterbox. At home, we win. Down there, we’re in the toilet. I don’t need to tell you that the Caps still are among the best at-home teams in the League. Or that we play the stink-cats at the Phone Booth.
  • Shut Yo’ Mouth. Not only have we won at home, but we’ve shut the kittehs out both times, the Panthers’ longest series of shut-outs yet. We have our Top Cat between the pipes on Thursday, but Jose Pussycat hasn’t logged a win since mid-March, leaving the heavy lifting to Scott Clemenceau or some other surrender monkey.
  • Stay Filthy. We’ve noted Ovi’s rouse from Wintertime slumber to Springtime colossus. We’ve seen Nicky take back the dot (or BE the dot) and, hopefully soon, awaken our hibernating power play. We’ve seen Beags start pawing hard at the net while Old Man Kanoooobs never stopped. And, H8ers (or Twenty-H8ers)  I’m talking to you, Alexander Semin has game in/game out continued to show his quality. There is nobody in teh NHL who can snipe like Sasha. That 14 minutes of TOI from the Bolts game was an abomination, and we’re still shaking our heads.  Coach, keep him on the ice, and Sasha, keep it up, Russian Huggy-Bear.
  • Any Time Over Time. Yeesh. I’m still in the books as hating overtime, and really hating shoot outs. Yet the Caps have twice in just two weeks shown what a shoot out should look like. Hendy? We’re looking in your direction! Overall, we’ve got the mojo over the Panthers in this category…should it come to it. But it better not. Win in regulation. Close the deal in 60.
  • Hollywood Ending. “Forget it, Jose. It’s Chinatown.”

The Throwback Jersey

Look, this has been a heck of a season. And by heck we mean other words our RMNB overlords don’t like us using, even though we’re all grown-ups and know what we’re talking about but have to maintain the façade of politesse because, whatever. We’ve hooted and hollered and fist-bumped and taken too many rides-of-shame home on the Metro. It’s still too early for look backs because we’re still looking forward to playoffs. But at the second to last regular season go-around, we can’t wait for Thursday evening. (And our throw-back jerseys are bad luck to boot.)

7pm on the teevees. Unlike Saturday’s season finale against the Rags, the Thursday game is on CSN. Thank God we won’t have to suffer through the lunatic, hate-filled ranting and raving of the NBC (Nattering Braying Carping) announce team.  And we’ll see you on the Twitters – use the special hashtag: #RussianMachineBreaksYou

Once more into the breach, my friends. CRASH THE NET!

  • Dark Stranger

    Nattering Braying Carping as the new meaning for NBC?  I had heard “Nothing but Crosby” as well.

  • Guestz

    I want to believe, but my heart looks less like a solid piece of man meat and more like churned-amonia-treated man-slime. Like in Ghostbusters II, it oozes and grows with every additional ounce of confusion, anger and hated, and the CAPS have been feeding that pool far too often this season. 

    Luckily I’ll be in class tomorrow night so I won’t be given the chance to avert my gaze at every horrifying moment that we sit back on our asses after we’ve established some sort of lead or momentum gaining stride.  I vote we ride whatever luck-train we can catch a ride in these last 4 days of the 2011-12 nightmare, and then dump DH.  If he magically brings us the cup this year, I vow to purchase the remaining heaps of ammonia-treated beef slime and donate the lot to the dying tigers around the world so that they might know the same joy of eating your weight in crap as our lucky school children have known.

    VIVA LA NET CRASH!

  • Pingback: DMV: Top Caps Prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov Decked, Then Kicked | Mr. Irrelevant, a D.C. Sports Blog by the Brothers Mottram

  • serpent

    Loaded up on small, empty plastic bottles for throwing so I don’t have to buy another tv.
    Realized that I can agonize about tonite until fondly reunited with assorted prodical bovine and it won’t change a bloody thing on the ice.Must stay calm.
    EVERYBODY in a red jersey carrying a hockey stick needs a SashaHug, pre-game, for good luck. 
    Hello Neuvy thrashes Jose Kitteh and the rest of the litter,big time.
    Looser cleans the litter box.

  • http://twitter.com/VeggieTart Danielle

    Caps and Cats have met five times this year, with the Caps leading the season series 3-2.  If the Cats get as much as a  loser point in these last two games, they’ve won the division.  The Good Guys need to come down hard on these guys and kick their asses *in regulation*, thankyouverymuch.  And then we need to root for Carolina to beat the Cats on Saturday night.

  • http://twitter.com/J_Pv10 John Peavy

    How are we taunting Jose tonight? 

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    with hearty applause

  • GovtMinion

    The part that’s bothering me is that as the Caps and Panthers clash, we have to look over at the scoreboard to see where Buffalo is, and… god help me, we have to hope that the Flyers will win? I have to hope for PHILADELPHIA to win this? I need a shower.

  • http://twitter.com/VaMedic Chris Gardner

    We got this.

  • http://twitter.com/VaMedic Chris Gardner

    Filling his net.

  • Minuterice362

     Indeed. I always liked him.

  • Pingback: Cale Chimera Practiced with the Caps Again

  • http://twitter.com/joonas6 Joonas Ahola

    LET’S GO CAPS!

  • PuckBuddyDoug

    Believer. Believe. Here. We. Go!

  • Dan

    CLINCHED.