Thursday, November 25, 2010

Preview: Lightning @ Capitals

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Washington Capitals

Washington: 15-6-2, 32 points
Leading scorer: Alex Ovechkin, 10-19-29 in 23 GP
Shot differential/game: +2.3
Notable injuries/illnesses: D Tom Poti, D Mike Green, F Mike Knuble, D Tyler Sloan
Starting goalie: Michal Neuvirth (12-3-1, 2.63, .912)
Player to watch: W Alex Ovechkin

Tampa Bay: 13-7-2, 28 points
Leading scorer: Steven Stamkos, 21-17-38 in 22 GP
Shot differential/game: +5.2 (!!! Tied with Detroit for 2nd, San Jose first)
Notable injuries/illnesses: C Vincent Lecavalier, W Simon Gagne
Starting goalie: 1A Dan Ellis (5-4-2, 2.81, .898) and 1B Mike Smith (8-3-0, 3.15, .884)
Player to watch: RW Martin St. Louis

Season series:
Lightning 3 @ Capitals 6 (11/11)

The Lightning have won five straight, while the Capitals just snapped a three game losing streak. For the first time in as long as I can remember, a team facing the Capitals has two players with as many or more points than any Capital: Martin St. Louis has 29 points.

1)
2) Good Gordon. Boyd Gordon has the speed, skill, and smarts to limit chances for Steven Stamkos. He has to come up big here, since Martin St. Louis can also take advantage of extra space if teams focus too much on Stamkos.

3) DISCIPLINE!!! This gets all caps here because it's so critically important. Tampa Bay has a hot power play and outshoots its opponents by quite a bit. They're terrific at getting shots through. The Caps need to be responsible with the puck, make smart shot blocks, and not take silly penalties.

4) Alexander the Great. Alex Ovechkin was arguably the Caps' best forward against Carolina. If he plays well again, Tampa Bay doesn't stand a chance, as they're missing tough minutes scoring line center Lecavalier.

5)
From what I read and see, Alex Ovechkin found a rhythm against Carolina. As we've seen in the playoffs, sometimes a small temporary change (in Carolina, moving to RW; in the playoffs, playing with Sergei Fedorov) can jumpstart Ovechkin so that he continues to dominate even when lines return to normal later on. I think and hope the same has happened. Capitals 5, Lightning 3.

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