Sunrise Showdown LoomingPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Winning the final game before the All-Star break is always a boost. When you win that game against the defending Stanley Cup champions – and still one of the league’s top teams – and you win it without the services of three of your top offensive players, it’s even more of a boost. The Caps’ 5-3 win over the Bruins at Verizon Center on Tuesday has to rank among their most satisfying triumphs of the season for those reasons, and for the fact that the win also nudges Washington back into the top spot in the Southeast Division standings. Both the Capitals and the Florida Panthers head into the break with 55 points in 48 games. By virtue of having more wins (26 to 22), the Caps officially occupy the catbird’s seat in the Southeast. This sets up a big tilt between the two teams coming out of the break. The Caps will reconvene on Monday, Jan. 30 for practice and will leave for Tampa Bay later in the day. After a Jan. 31 road game with the Lightning in Tampa, the Caps will travel to Sunrise where they will play the second game of a back-to-back set against the Panthers on Feb. 1. That game will be Florida’s first after the all-star break. It’s been a while – the year 2000 to be exact – since the Caps and Cats have played meaningful Southeast Division games against one another this late in the campaign. That Wednesday Southeast skirmish figures to be for occupancy of the top spot in the division. Enjoy the break, everyone.
Generally speaking, when Caps forward Matt Hendricks sheds his blood on an ice rink, it’s because he’s caught the knuckles of a fistic foe somewhere above his neck during an NHL game. That wasn’t the case last Saturday in Pittsburgh, however. During the Capitals’ off-day practice at Consol Energy