Playoff Pregame #9: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

#1 Washington Capitals at #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Capitals trail the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series 0-3
Location: St. Pete Times Forum
7:00 PM
TV:   Comcast SportsNet-DC (HD) (Game On!)
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500AM
Previous Games:
Apr 29, 2011 TBL@WSH 2-4 L
May 1, 2011 TBL@WSH 2-3 L (OT)
May 3, 2011 WSH@TBL 3-4 L
Next Game, if necessary:
May 7, 2011 TBL@WSH, 12:30 PM
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The Washington Capitals have blown 3 games they’ve had a chance to win.  This could be the last game of the season, so we want to thank all of our readers for following us this season.  The Caps are certainly capable of forcing a Game 5, so let’s hope we get to see them at least one more time this season. 

The Capitals still have cards to play, and it wouldn’t be inappropriate to bring in a new goaltender for tonight’s game.  Not only is it back-to-back nights, but Michal Neuvirth, for as solid as he has been, he has not had any luck against Tampa Bay this season.  Semyon Varlamov has.  It would also be nice to see Tom Poti or Dennis Wideman come back to the lineup, as the Caps could seriously use the help on D and on the powerplay.  The Caps have used more or less the same lineup for 3 games and they have lost all 3.  Something’s gotta give. 

Injury Report:  The Capitals are not expecting to have D Dennis Wideman (leg hematoma) and D Tom Poti (groin).
-The Lightning are not expecting to have D Pavel Kubina (head), LW Simon Gagne (head), D Matt Smaby (lower body), and C Dana Tyrell (foot). 

Three Things To Watch For:

“Never take your eyes off your opponent.”
-Bruce Lee – Enter the Dragon
The Capitals entered this series acting like the Lightning were going to roll over.  The Capitals never really woke up until it was too late, and they never pressed to put their opponent away.  The Caps would get a lead, then they would stop playing, as if the Lightning were supposed to give up.  It has been terribly frustrating to watch, but the Caps should understand by now that a 1-goal lead is not safe against this team, and they have to keep the pressure on throughout the game.  They keep making the mistake of not respecting their opponent, and it keeps costing them. 

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over”
-Yogi Berra
The Capitals still have one more chance to redeem themselves and save their season, and it begins at 7pm.  The Capitals know it’s a longshot, but they’ve won 4 games in a row before, they can do it again.  The Lightning still need to win a game for the series to be over, and the Capitals can secure themselves against defeat for one night, at least. 

“I remember last year in the playoffs we weren’t ready the first two games. So we have to get ready now and play a good 60 minutes. We haven’t played a good 60 minutes in a while.”
-Nicklas Backstrom, April 1, 2010
The Capitals problem of not playing a complete game has been a problem for a long time.  The Caps have had this problem in all 3 games this series, they will play well for long stretches, but then they’ll take a break and let in a couple goals.  The Caps have to give 100% effort tonight, especially on the powerplay, if they expect to win.