Blog Entry

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:01 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:59 pm

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The six-game grudge match that was these two teams’ battle for the Southeast Division has been extended. (The Caps won four of those meetings in the regular season.) The Lightning fumbled the division after a wobble down the stretch, not that it matters now. Tampa Bay advanced after a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 on Wednesday. The Lightning arrived in Washington at 3 a.m. Thursday, not giving them a whole lot of downtime. The Caps enter as the more rested team since they advanced past the New York Rangers in five games on Saturday.  

“It should be interesting going up against a team in your own division,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters on Thursday. “It got pretty good there at the end of the (of the regular season) because both teams were vying for first place. . . . I think it’s going to take another step.”

Here’s the breakdown: 

Forwards: Neither team is lacking here, especially on the top couple lines. Martin St. Louis, a former Hart Trophy winner, was announced as a finalist for the NHL MVP on Thursday. He had 99 points in the regular season and compiled eight points (four goals, four assists) in the first round. Simon Gagne, acquired by first-year GM Steve Yzerman last offseason, and Steve Downie have averaged a point per game so far in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin (three goals, three assists) doesn’t show any sign of the undisclosed injury that kept him out of a handful of games at the end of the regular season. Almost as important to the Caps’ postseason fortunes is the inspired play of Alexander Semin (three goals, assist), who was a ghost in previous postseasons. It will be interesting to see what a one-week break will mean to Nicklas Backstrom. He injured his thumb last month and had one point (an assist) in the first round. If he’s not right, look to see more of deadline acquisition Jason Arnott.

Edge: Capitals 

Defenseman: If the Lightning showed anything as they stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round is that they can hold a lead. Only one defenseman (Victor Hedman, minus-4) is negative in the plus-minus category. Eric Brewer, a former high first-round selection knocked at his previous stops for not living up to his potential, has a goal and four assists this postseason. The Caps received a scare when a shot sent screws flying off of the helmet of Mike Green, who missed the final 20 games of the regular season with concussion-like symptoms. He went to the dressing room, but returned to the bench and is ready to go in this series. He enters second on the Caps in points (five). 

Edge: Lightning 

Goalies: Dwayne Roloson, 41, obviously has plenty left. Including his Game 7 shutout, he allowed only four goals over the final three games in the first round. He was 2-1-1 against the Caps with a 1.21 goals-against average after he joined the Lightning via a January trade with the New York Islanders. The Caps did have some success against Roloson this season, probably not so coincidentally after Washington agitator Matt Hendricks made contact with Roloson in a 5-2 Caps win on Feb. 4. On the other side of the experience scale is Caps rookie Michal Neuvirth. While he didn’t have to be spectacular against a hobbled New York Rangers team with few offensive weapons, the 23-year-old Czech did post a 1.38 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage. 

Edge: Lightning 

Special teams: The Lightning have the best power play percentage (29.6) of the teams left in the playoffs, led by St. Louis (three goals). Much of those numbers were built in Game 5 as the Lightning scored on four of their six 5-on-4 opportunities.  The Lightning also scored as many goals as they allowed (one) in 35 shorthanded situations en route to a 97.1 kill percentage. The Caps, who had middle-of-the-pack power play in the regular season, had a slightly better percentage (18.8 percent) in the first round. Washington has the best PK percentage (85.6) of the eight teams left in the postseason. 

Edge: Capitals

Prediction: Boudreau has never taken the Caps past the second round and he goes against a first-year coach (Guy Boucher) who has the Lightning back in the playoffs for the first time in four years. I think this could be the year the Caps break through to the conference finals, but the Lightning --- even if they are coming off a long series --- won’t go quietly. I say Caps in six games. 

No. 1 Washington vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay - Series tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
April 29 at WAS 7 p.m.  
May 1 at WAS 7 p.m.  
May 3 at TB TBA  
May 4 at TB 7 p.m.  
* May 7 at WAS 12:30 p.m.  
* May 9 at TB TBA  
* May 11 at WAS TBA  

-- A.J. Perez
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:16 pm
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Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: April 30, 2011 9:28 am

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

I meant it in the context of if it took them 5 to beat the Rangers, it SHOULD take at least 6 to beat the Lightning because the Lightning are a better team.  And, Lightning special teams have put the Caps in an 0-1 hole, now.

Since: Nov 12, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2011 4:52 pm

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

While I agree with your comment about disrespect, how can you say it "took them 5" as if that is some kind of sign that they struggled.  Uh, you have to play at least four games, so they lost one game.  Big deal.  If the Rangers series had gone 7 games, I could see cause for concern.  Anyway,  this should be an excellent, hard-fought series by both teams.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:25 pm

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

CBS, like NBC are Cap-haters!  Can't get any credit where credit is due.  I'll have to admit our history likely has something to do with that but you know what?  History, is about to change... wait for it,,, it's coming!
Yeah, because picking the Caps to win in 6 is an obvious sign of disrespect.  Took them 5 to beat a Rangers team that has no where near the offensive firepower of the Bolts.  And I agree with the guy that he got the goalie edge wrong (although Roli has been standing on his head lately) as long as you concede he got the special teams edge BLATANTLY wrong.  This series will not end before game 6, although you have to give the #1 seed the edge until proven otherwise.  Still, Go Bolts.

Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2011 2:01 pm

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

Sharks fan here and I will tell you that no matter who wins this series it's going to be tough.  Any time you play a divisional foe it's a battle.  I doubt that the Caps will roll the Bolts.  I see this like I saw the Sharks and Kings as a tough battle.  I think the Caps have more talent on O and to a certian extent D but I see goal as the HUGE equalizer.  If you play well you win, if not it won't matter how good your O or D is.  I still think the Caps will win this series but I certianly think the Bolts have a legit shot.

Good luck to both teams.

Since: Jun 19, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:02 pm

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

Caps in 6?  Doubtful.  I recall quite a few that said Pens in 5....  Go Bolts!

Since: Feb 5, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:28 am

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

This guys goes on about Victor Hedman and Brewer, and only metions Mike Green got hit in the head. he doesnt talk about the actual play of anybody.
Great point highwindmt. He works for CBS and his name is Perez, so how much could he really know about Hockey anyway? Laughing

Lets go Caps!!!

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:46 am

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

agreed. neuvy likes it when peeps underestimate him (see bylsma)

Since: May 1, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:40 am

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

They talk about the Rangers offense being bad but what do you call the pens without Crosby and Malkin. No I'm not putting down the pens but you can't say their offense would win games for them. Even though the Rangers didn't score much they had more offensive firepower then the Pens and an awesome goaltender in net to keep the games close. I doubt Roloson will make saves like Lungquist did to keep his team in the game. Should be advantage Washington in net.

Since: Jul 4, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:32 am

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning

I am really curious as to why the Lightning get the edge in the d-man category. The Capitals were one of the best defensive teams down the stretch and a lot of that has to do with the play of their guys on the back end, especially John Carlson and Karl Alzner. This guys goes on about Victor Hedman and Brewer, and only metions Mike Green got hit in the head. he doesnt talk about the actual play of anybody.
Also, the Caps have the edge at forward? The Bolts have Steven Stamkos and St Louis, both of whom had varying degress of MVP talk this season. That, along with the Bolts being the better offensive team, has to count for something.
One last thing, i dont believe either team has the edge at goalie. both have been amazing, although I think everybody is giving Dwayne Roloson too much credit for beating a depleted Pens team (even though Neuvirth didnt face a powerhouse either).
Either way, im done with my rant. Im sure it will be a great series. GO CAPS

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