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Countdown 28: April 9th vs Washington

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Panthers 2010-11 season is quickly approaching and with that, is taking a look at the top ten questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 16th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top ten on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

In today's topic, we take a closer look at the season ending game against Washington on April 9th in the Top 10 Games this season.

While players don't like to look to far in the future (especially when this game is seven months after the start of the season), it's still interesting to look at games that are on the schedule. The opener, the home opener, when you play the Stanley Cup champs, your rivals and pretty much every date.

And while doesn't want to think about the end of the season when the season hasn't even started yet, the season finale makes the top ten list for several reasons. Florida, by the way, defeated Washington 7-4 two seasons ago in the season finale at the BankAtlantic Center.

The first reason is that it is in fact the season finale. The question will be answered closer to the end of the 2010-11 season, but where will the Panthers be in terms of the standings? When it comes to the past nine seasons, the last game of the season hasn't meant much.

Hopefully that changes this year. With a better start (Panthers have notoriously bad starts), a healthier lineup throughout the season and players stepping up (like Stephen Weiss last year and David Booth the season before), Florida could be in the mix for a playoff spot. Or better yet, they are in the playoffs and just ending the regular season while preparing for the playoffs. If not, then the game is still pretty huge as it's the last game for the Panthers fans to enjoy for about five months.

A second reason that this is a game to prepare for is their opponent. The Capitals have won the Southeast Division the last two years thanks in large part to the firepower that they have throughout their lineup. Those players include Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. And you can't forget about their superstar, captain Alex Ovechkin. The Russian sniper finished last season with 50 goals and 109 points. For his career, the 25-year old has posted gaudy numbers by recording 269 goals and 529 points in just 396 career games.

The Capitals also owned the Panthers number last season as the Cats earned just a single point (0-5-1) against their division rivals. Will that change this season?
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