Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Seen and heard last night at MCI Center:

SOUTHEAST CURSE? — Three of the five Southeast Division teams have reached the Stanley Cup finals. However, not only have Florida (1996), Washington (1998) and Carolina (2002) not made a repeat trip to the finals, none has won a playoff round since their surprise runs.

The Panthers lost in the first round in 1997 and 2000 and otherwise haven’t made the playoffs since their big spring. The Hurricanes will miss out on a second straight postseason. And the Caps, who will be at home for the playoffs for the third time in six years, lost in the first round in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

END OF THE ROAD — Speaking of the Southeast, the game against the Panthers was the last of six straight for Washington against division rivals Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina. That’s one more division game than the Caps played the previous two months. Washington has four Southeast contests left, three against Atlanta and one against Tampa Bay.

SEVENTH KID — The Caps and each of the other 29 NHL teams are looking for their most passionate fan age 7 to 17. All interested in the 7th Kids program are required to submit a 250-word essay and an entry form via washingtoncaps.com. Videos, pictures and drawings in support of the essays are encouraged. The winner will be chosen on April 15. He or she will be recognized on the Web site and receive a personalized jersey and one-year subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids. Each team’s 7th Kid will be a finalist for the leaguewide award whose winner will attend the NHL award ceremonies in Toronto on June 10 among other prizes.

David Elfin

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