Pregame #41: Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning (1/4/11)

Washington Capitals (23-12-5) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (23-11-5)
Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Radio: XM, 1500AM, 820AM
Previous Games:
Nov 11, 2010 TBL@WSH 3-6 W 
Nov 26, 2010 TBL@WSH 0-6 W
Games Remaining:
Jan 12, 2011 WSH@TBL 7:30 PM ET
Feb  4, 2011 WSH@TBL 7:30 PM ET
Mar  7, 2011 WSH@TBL 7:00 PM ET
Friendly Faces of Former Capitals: (none)
The Enemy:
Lightning Hockey Blog
Raw Charge

Fresh off their win at the Winter Classic, the Washington Capitals welcome Southeast Divisional foe the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Verizon Center Tuesday for their 3rd meeting of the 2010-11 season. Although the Caps have dismantled the Bolts twice already this season (outscoring their opponent 12-3), expect a battle as Tampa Bay looks to retain their standing atop the division. TB, 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, will be turning the pipes over to their newest member while the Caps will most likely start the NHL’s first star of the week, Semyon Varlamov, who has allowed 1 goal in his last 150:58 of play.

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Keep on, keepin’ on: After dropping 8 games in December, the Capitals seem to have worked out the kinks after a f-bomb tirade by Bruce Boudreau brainstorming session where everyones thoughts were equally given the same amount of time. The Caps have gone 5-0-1 since, and have only allowed 13 goals over their last 8 games. After keeping Sidney Crosby off the score sheet during the Winter Classic, they’ll be tested by Steven Stamkos who is second in the league in points (56) and goals (32).

Roll Over Beethoven: The Bolts head to DC set to start newly acquired Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who was received in trade with the New York Islanders on New Years Day. On the season, Roli is 6-13-0 in 20 starts with a 2.64 GAA and .916 Sv %. Career against the Capitals, he has posted a 6-4-0 record 2.40 GAA and .909 Sv % in 13 games. Although the veteran netminder was brought in to add some consistency to TB’s netminders, it’ll be no easy task against DC’s high-octane offense who have averaged 3.17 goals/game in their last 6 contests.

Secondary Scoring: During the Capitals 3-game winning streak, the Capitals have benefited from goals by Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, David Steckel – taking the pressure off of the young guns. Also among the third-and-fourth liners making the box score the past 3 games are Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera, and Matt Hendricks  each tallying an assist. 41 games into the season, of the forwards on the Capitals roster who have double-digit points, 3 of 8 are not of the top two lines, and Matt Bradley (9) and David Steckel (8) aren’t far behind. The Capitals will need to continue this trend if they hope to continue to win, especially with two contests against the SE division leaders in the next 8 days.