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Panther Hunters

Caps need better effort against Florida

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    Up by 13 points over the second-place team, it's hard to say that tonight's Caps game feels like a big one.  But it might be.  They take on the Florida Panthers tonight in the second of back-to-back games.  Caps fans hope this one turns out better than the last.

    The Caps stunk up the Atlanta ice last night, on the way to a 5-1 loss that probably wasn't that close.  Jose Theodore had a rough night, but he wasn't the only one. 

    Bruce Boudreau questioned the team's effort, especially their desire to get in front of the net and get a little bit dirty.  The Caps had 50 shots, and the Thrashers goalie played well, but Gabby wants them to know that not every goal needs to be a highlight one.

    Tonight's opponent is in 9th place. The Panthers are sure to be scratching and clawing, hoping to grab on to that last playoff spot like a hunk of meat. The Caps have to expect a battle.

    Florida's been skidding a bit lately, so they're likely to be even more focused.

    While the Caps have a comfy standings lead, maybe they shouldn't be too complacent. Florida's 14 points back, but they also have two games in-hand.  If they pull off the upset, then win those two other games, they're only 8 points back with about 10 games to play.

    That's still a huge lead for the Caps, and it's highly unlikely the Panthers could make it up. But you never know. 

    So the best thing for Ovie and the gang is to keep piling on the points.

    But to do that, they'll have to play with more effort than they did last night.

    Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment.  He misses AHL hockey.