Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Seen and heard last night at Office Depot Center in Sunrise, Fla:

ONLY THE BEST — The game was the only one in an eight-game stretch ending tomorrow at home against Toronto in which Washington’s foe wasn’t a top-10 team in the standings. The Caps are 2-4 in the first six such games, losing at New Jersey, Los Angeles and Colorado and to Detroit at home and winning against visiting Boston and at Atlanta.

THE NEW GUYS — The game was the first matchup of two of the three NHL coaches to take over their jobs since the start of the season. Florida’s Rick Dudley was 5-7-4-1 since replacing Mike Keenan on Nov. 8. Washington’s Glen Hanlon was 2-1 since replacing Bruce Cassidy on Dec. 10. The Caps came into the game with records of 12-10-3 at Florida and 7-4-1 at Office Depot Center, where the Panthers moved in 1998 after five seasons at Miami Arena.

GOOD CAUSES — The Caps ask fans attending tomorrow’s game to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the F Street entrance as part of the Marines’ Toys For Tots drive. The Caps alumni team will face staffers from WMZQ-FM in a charity game Saturday at 6 p.m. at SkateQuest Reston on Michael Faraday Drive. Former defensemen Joe Reekie, Ken Sabourin, Gord Lane and Yvon Labre are among those who will play to benefit Caps charities. The event includes a silent auction featuring items signed by Caps, other NHL players and country music stars. Admission is $10, $5 for those under 10.

BONZAI MOVIN’ UP — Peter Bondra, already the Caps’ all-time leader in points, goals, power-play goals, game-winning goals, shorthanded goals and hat tricks, will tie former teammate Kelly Miller for second place on Washington’s games played list tomorrow by skating in his 940th. If Bondra plays in every game this season, he will pass former teammate Calle Johansson (983 games) for the top spot March 24 in Atlanta.

David Elfin

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