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Caps crush Cats in Southeast clash

Feb 7, 2012, 9:44 PM EDT

ovivokounchestbump AP

Didn’t Alex Ovechkin say this was supposed to be tough?

Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals made it look kinda easy tonight, topping the Florida Panthers 4-0 in a big Southeast Division matchup. This win moves the Caps into first overall in the division while the Panthers take Washington’s place outside the East’s top eight at No. 9.

Washington’s two up-and-down stars figured in heavily to the win. Tomas Vokoun earned his second shutout against his former team, turning aside all 42 shots. Ovechkin looked an awful lot like the force that fans miss and opponents hoped was long gone, scoring two goals and firing seven shots (five that registered and two that missed the net).

Frustrations in Florida

With those 42 shots on goal, the Panthers should know that there was at least a decent effort put forth. That being said, Scott Clemmensen had a rough night, allowing four goals on just 24 shots.

Word is that Jose Theodore is nearing a return and goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom is also making progress from his own knee injury, so perhaps Florida will get some help in net when it’s needed.

If the playoffs began today, the winner of the Southeast Division would be the third seed while the second place team wouldn’t even make the postseason. It’s not time for the Panthers to panic, but the playoff-starved franchise must be flustered by the thought of possibly falling short once again after such an especially promising start.

  1. scottfmullin - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    It’s a goalie issue for the Panthers. A team just can’t lean on a guy like Scott Clemmensen night in and night out. They need Jose back by their next game to restore the goaltending depth: then things will snap back to the way things were before all the injuries.

    • wethog66 - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:02 PM

      Jose Threeormore? As a Caps fan my advice to you is to not hang your hopes on good old Jose to save your butt. If the Panthers are to make a push for the playoffs they need to pick up a goalie from outside their organization.

      • scottfmullin - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM

        You haven’t been watching the Panthers regularly then. Theodore has played much better with us than he did with Washington or Colorado or Minnesota.

      • wethog66 - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:46 PM

        I hope, kind of, that you are right. Jose was a good guy with the Caps, but I remember feeling the same way you did when the Caps signed him. But Habs and Avs fans warned us Caps fans and it turned true. Just keep your expectations low is all.

  2. nhlbruins90 - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Caps crush Cats in Southeast clash, what a tongue twister. Say it five times fast without messing up, and I’ll write you a check equal to my life’s savings.

  3. ravenscaps48 - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    Good Win.

  4. psuhockeyfan - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    Missed the game, but how can it look easy when being outshot that badly?

    • scottfmullin - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      Good chances for Panthers, but a couple missed opportunities and great goaltending on all other occasions.

      But easy for Caps on offense? Yes.

  5. kotteintheslot - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    If the Caps do win the Southeast, whats the one thing that tends to steal playoff wins? A goalie that stands on its head. If this team can get healthy, I wouldn’t want to face them come April.

    • ravenscaps48 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      I kinda hope we don’t win the division and go in as a 7 or 8 seed. No Expectations = No Pressure = A Much More Dangerous Capitals Team (Hopefully with a healthy Mike Green and Nicky Backstrom)

      • joshuakorr - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:47 AM

        Pretty sure the Caps should shoot for 3rd or 6th seed. I don’t think the expectations would be that different. I do think the Rangers or Bruins who spank the Caps pretty handily. I’d be suprised to see such a series last more than 5 games. Those are two teams who’ve really got some identity grit that’ll = wins in the playoffs. Best case for caps is to play Toronto, Florida, or Ottawa in the playoffs. Worst case they draw Philly, Pitt, Bos, or NYR.

      • wethog66 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:52 AM

        First, the Caps will only make the playoffs if they win the division. And if they do, based on their point total, expectations will be low regardless. Right now though, the Caps need to make the playoffs first. With injuries and their play on the road, no garuntee for the Caps right now.

        And the Caps have held their own against the Rangers and Bruins this year. Don’t think a spanking is garunteed. Anything can happen in the playoffs if a team has a hot goalie. Us Caps fans know that all to well from that 1st round series a couple years ago against Montreal.

  6. bethgoesglobal - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    ravenscaps48- It doesn’t matter if we get 3rd seed or 7th or 8th- if we’re meant to win we’ll win. The expectations now are to make it into the playoffs first and that’s pressure enough. Winning the top spot in the SE division doesn’t make us the 3rd the best team. So if we are the 7th or 8th seed then not only do we lose home advantage but we’d be up against (most likely) either the Bruins or Rangers (could be rough). Until DC gets the Cup the expectations will be there. Until it gets here I’m just gonna sit here and try to enjoy the ride.

    Roller-coasters are fun because you never know what might be over that next hill and when it ends you just wanna get back on and go again.

  7. jpelle82 - Feb 8, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    is anyone really surprised? the caps play in the worst division in hockey. they can have an off year and still win the division (and probably will). i dont think anyone really thought florida would be able to keep up their early season success, it only gets worse for them from here. i wouldnt be surprised to see winnepeg ahead of them in the standings shortly. when the caps end up getting the 3rd seed and face a team like philly, nj, pitt, toronto in the first round….they will have another quick exit and the off-season drama will start all over again.

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