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Panthers take Southeast lead, Caps out of top eight again

Feb 9, 2012, 10:56 PM EST

Mike Santorelli, Jack Johnson AP

The Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals keep playing musical chairs with the Southeast Division lead – and the spot in the East’s top eight that comes with it. The Panthers ended up in that chair when the music stopped tonight.

Both teams are tied at 61 points but the Panthers have played one less game (53 to Washington’s 54) so they’re currently the technical leaders. That’s not to say that the Caps lack some advantages, though, as they’ve won 28 games to the Panthers’ 25. If Florida loses its next game in regulation, Washington will back into the No. 1 spot again.

The Panthers topped the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 tonight, as they only allowed one Drew Doughty goal and avenged the spirit of David Booth by handing Mike Richards a -3 rating.

Meanwhile the Winnipeg Jets improved their shaky playoff hopes by edging the Capitals 3-2 via a shootout. The Jets are now behind the ninth-place Caps at 10th place with 58 points although they’ve played 56 games.

The immediate future for the Caps and Jets

Washington must weather a challenging storm with five of its next six games on the road, starting off with a tough road game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday and a home contest against the always-dangerous San Jose Sharks. after that they’ll begin a four-game road trip with another big clash versus the Panthers on Friday, Feb. 17.

Florida’s next two games are on the road against the Devils and Islanders before they’ll play five of six at home. That includes the aforementioned home battle with Washington.

***

Looking things over, it sounds like the Panthers will have every chance to maintain their lead over the short term. Florida’s overall schedule is very tough – especially in terms of travel – so the big picture feud could bee a see-saw match.

Who do you expect to come out on top in the end, though?

  1. scottfmullin - Feb 9, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    Wonder if that OT loss against the Jets mentally affects the Caps. It seemed like a brutal way to lose to a division opponent.

  2. letsgosjsharks - Feb 9, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Sharks will beat the Caps…. just sayin

    • trbowman - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM

      And then choke in the playoffs like they do every year

  3. trbowman - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    I just don’t see the Panthers outlasting the Capitals for that division.

    Hope I’m wrong though, because I’d like to see the Panthers in the post-season for a change.

    Although if the Sens continue to slip the Panthers could still make it as an eighth seed even if they lose the division to the Caps.

  4. letangshair - Feb 10, 2012 at 5:49 AM

    This division is reason enough for realignment. What a joke.

  5. kaf39 - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Sharks will take it.

  6. pavelfitzgerald - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    “The immediate future for the Caps & Jets” was then followed by updates on the Caps & Panthers .. .. ..
    I love how the Jets are flying under the radar & no ones giving them any love. That was a HUUGGGGEEE win for them last night

    • jpelle82 - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      under the radar? you have to be a good team for that expression to mean anything. if you’re not doing anything noticeable then no one is going to notice you…but if you are and people ignore it then you would be under the radar. doesnt apply in this case with the jets, they have been mediocre all season…however…i will say that i am rooting for them in that division and i like them better than florida or the crapitals at this point. saturday’s game should be a little bit of a wake up call for you though

  7. pavelfitzgerald - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    According to your theory then the Leafs & Capitals aren’t flying under the radar as they are both incredibly mediocre, yet they get way more attention. I didn’t include the Panthers since they were actually good at one point in the year but are now mediocre.
    My post was more focused on pointing out how the writer wrote “what the future holds for the Capitals & Jets” yet talked about the Capitals & Panthers. Anyone who reads here regularly has quickly figured out that proof reading @ PHT is non existent.

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