Meaningless game for Caps? Sort of

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SUNRISE, Fla. – So does Saturday night’s Capitals-Panthers game mean anything? The Caps already have the Southeast Division and first seed in the Eastern Conference wrapped up and are playing last-place Florida.

But a win would send the Caps into the playoffs on a five-game winning streak.

“Aesthetically it looks a lot better to go in on a five-game winning streak. But I don’t think in the overall scheme of things that it would make a difference next Wednesday on what you do today,” coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday morning. “We wanna win every game we play; every time we have a competition we wanna win. It’s a thing that’s born into you, I guess, and we wanna win tonight.”

This is not likely to be a playoff dress rehearsal, with Mike Green staying back in the D.C. area and a few other top players expected to get the night off. That’s by design, but it doesn’t mean the players who are on the ice want to cruise through this one.

“We know standings-wise or point-wise there’s no advancements that we can go, but I think it’s just fine-tuning our systems and our play and getting our game ready for playoff hockey,” defenseman Jeff Schultz said.

Boudreau doesn’t see a correlation between the result in Game 82 against the lowly Panthers and Game 1 of a first-round series against either the Rangers or Hurricanes. But a bad loss and a bad game could change the psyche around the team.

“I think the only thing that would matter is maybe if we lost it, how we lost it – if we just went out there and all played on our own page and didn’t do the systems and stuff,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “For the standings, it means nothing, but it’s just kind of a working game for us. We wanna work out all the kinks and we wanna go in on a roll.”

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