The Panthers, coming off their best performance of the season, head to our nation's capital to take on the Washington Capitals. Craig Anderson will get his 3rd straight start in net tonight. After shutting out the New York Rangers on Sunday, the job doesn't get any easier tonight. The Capitals have yet to lose in regulation in their home barn, posting a 9-0-1 record in the Phone Booth... I mean, Verizon Center. Some kid named Ovechkin might have something to do with that. The reigning NHL MVP leads the Caps in goals (13) and assists (17).
The Panthers will be without their leading scorer tonight. David Booth looks like he will miss about a week with a shoulder injury suffered Sunday in New York. Nothing new for the Panthers, as the injury bug has turned into an epidemic that has spread to Washington, as well. The Panthers are still without Booth, Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman, Richard Zednik, The Caps will be without Mike Green, Sergei Federov, John Erskine, Alexander Semin, Chris Clark, Jeff Schultz and Tom Poti. These two teams' injury list would make a pretty solid team.
Noteworthy notes; Kenndal McArdle will make his NHL debut. McArdle, as you are all surely aware, was the Panthers first round pick in 2005. He's waited 3 years for this, I'll be interested in seeing what he has. Oh, right. Tonight's game is radio only thanks to Versus exclusivity rights. Well I'll be interested in reading about what he does tonight anyways. Another rookie, Michael Frolik, continues to get more opportunities to find his groove. He'll be on the top line tonight with Stephen Weiss and Rusty Olesz. Frolik scored a goal Sunday, let's see.. I mean, listen if he'll be able to find his scoring touch again tonight. He's been getting ample ice time, time to produce.
Here's the reality of the situation. Tonight is the first game of December. The Panthers have earned points in 4 straight. Yes, the first couple months were abysmal, but there are plenty of games left (59, to be exact). And it's never too early to look at the 8th seed, and guess what. It's only 5 points away. If the Peltonen's and Campbell's and Stewart's of the team continue to contribute, and the Booth\Horton\Stillman line comes back in the not too distant future, and Anderson and Vokoun continue to push each other to play better... that's a lot of ifs, but hey, I got a lot of hope... puck drops at 7:00.