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Panthers bring new/familiar faces to DC - Holtby In

February 9, 2019, 1:43 PM ET [1 Comments]
Marcus Boutilier
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
After a seven-game losing streak was wiped out with a win over the Calgary Flames on February 1st, the Washington Capitals have won 3 of 4 games while on the current 6-game homestand in what some were calling a needed turning point. The only loss was a tight 1-0 game vs the Bruins last Sunday.

The Florida Panthers are next up at Capital One Arena tonight. Entering the game with a 22-22-8 record the Panthers are well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race currently 11 points back of the second wildcard spot and 14 points back of Metro Division foe Washington sitting in second place.

Winners of 5 of their last 7 games, the Panthers have been playing better as of late including doing the Caps a favor and beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in their last game in a 3-2 OT victory on Thursday night. Last year they were a much better team in the second half of the season as well winning 22 of their final 32 games falling just short of a playoff spot.

The Panthers come with a couple of new but familiar faces since the Caps last played them on October 19th in a 6-5 SO win for Florida. Ex-Penguins Derek Brassard and Riley Sheahan were traded to Florida last week in exchange for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. Brassard, who’s collected 2 assists since joining the club, will be on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov.

Barkov with 52 points and Mike Hoffmann (24 goals) lead the Panthers in offensive categories. Hoffman is particularly strong on the power play with 10 goals, so the Caps would do well to follow their current trend of late and stay out of the penalty box. Barkov is also 3rd in the NHL with 71 takeaways. With the Caps propensity to give up the puck, this is a game within the game to look out for.

The Capitals are still led in goals by league leader Alex Ovechkin with 37, but as of late Evgeny Kuznetsov has been the Caps best player. And he needs to be as last years playoffs would prove. He has 4 goals and 10 points in his last 6 games and maybe, more importantly, he has taken only two minor penalties in that time. And one was a horrendous call in my opinion.

The Capitals will get some fresh legs back into the lineup tonight as Christian Djoos makes his first appearance back in DC after his conditioning stint in AHL Hershey. Because of roster size, GM Brian MacLellan announced the club sent down rookie defenseman Jonas Seigenthaler to Hershey to make room for Djoos. This is not a surprising move, though disappointing for some namely Seigenthaler himself. He is able to be sent down without clearing waivers and can be called back up after the trade deadline on February 25th when roster sizes increase if an injury doesn's occur of course. He will be back and playing in the NHL soon. If the Caps tried to send down Madison Bowey instead he would almost certainly be picked up by another team. So this is just long-term roster management by the management staff.

Braden Holtby will get the net tonight after Pheonix Copley earned the win over Colorado in the last game.

Noteworthy is Devante Smith-Pelley’s absence. I feel he is a better scorer than Jaskin obviously, but his defensive game and forecheck have been much better than that of DSP. And with the Caps recent issue of goals against during their losing streak, it makes some sense to get Jaskin in there. You aren't taking Boyd out and Dowd is the needed C for the draws.

Game time is 7 PM EST from Capital One Arena.

Capital Gain:

Riley Barber is one of many having a great season in Hershey with the Bears.

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