Oates to players: Don't take Panthers lightly

Oates to players: Don't take Panthers lightly
December 13, 2013, 3:00 pm
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(Washington Capitals)

Capitals coach Adam Oates figured he would nip the question in the bud.

Asked is there is anything in particular the Capitals need to focus on when they visit the 10-17-5 Florida Panthers tonight in Sunrise, Fla., he jumped at the opportunity.

“Don’t take them lightly,” Oates said. “They’re a good hockey team. They made some changes for good and bad.

“They have some young guys that are playing and they’re playing free, loose, because they have nothing to lose. We’re going to stress a lot not to take them lightly.”

Oates will give rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer [2-0-0, 1.36 GAA, .959 save percentage] his second start this week. Grubauer received his first NHL start on Sunday at Madison Square Garden and the Caps skated away with a 4-1 win.  Scott Clemmensen [0-2-1, 3.89, .857]  is slated to start for the Panthers.

Last week Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner admitted the Caps didn’t have the energy they needed when the Carolina Hurricanes visited Verizon Center and handed them a 4-1 loss.

Oates said he recognizes the pratfalls associated with tonight’s game, especially because it comes before a huge home-and-home series against the hated Philadelphia Flyers.

“At times it’s tough in that building [BB&TCenter] because they’re not generating the crowds they should right now and once in a while it’s hard to get going,” Oates said. “We’re going to talk about the start, but they’re a good team.” 

Defenseman John Erskine [left knee] made the trip to Sunrise but will not play. That means the Caps' defense corps of Karl Alzner with Mike Green; Dmitry Orlov with Mike Green; and Nate Schmidt with Steve Oleksy will remain intact.