Pregame #67: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals (36-20-10) at Tampa Bay Lightning (37-21-7)
St. Pete Times Forum
7:00 PM
TV: Versus HD, TSN2
Radio: XM, 1500AM, 820AM
Previous Games:
Nov 11, 2010 TBL@WSH 3-6 W
Nov 26, 2010 TBL@WSH 6-0 W
Jan 4, 2011 WSH@TBL 0-1 OTL
Jan 12, 2011 WSH@TBL 0-3 L
Feb 4, 2011 WSH@TBL 5-2 W
Games Remaining: (none)
The Enemy:
Our Bloguin Partner: Lightning Hockey Blog
Our friends at: Raw Charge

The Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals continue to roll, winning their 4th straight 1-goal decision last night.  The Panthers took the Caps to overtime last night before Alex Semin nailed the coffin shut on a pretty passing play with Marcus Johansson.  The win gave the Caps 82 points, 1 more than Tampa, and they have the chance to widen the lead tonight. 

The Lightning are reeling right now.  Despite the moves of General Manager Steve Yzerman, the Bolts have lost all 3 games since the trade deadline.  With a rookie NHL coach and GM, the Lightning have overachieved this year.  They should still make the playoffs and they will remain strong for several years, but it does not appear they will claim the division crown this year. Don’t expect them to give it up without a fight. 

Injury Report: The Capitals are expecting D Mike Green (ear) and D Tom Poti (groin) to miss tonight’s game. C Jay Beagle (upper body) has missed the last 3 games and is questionable. G Semyon Varlamov (knee) is out, prompting the recall of G Braden Holtby.
-The Lightning expect to be without LW Ryan Malone (abdomen) and D Mike Lundin (abdomen). RW Steve Downie (lower body) is questionable. 

Other Note: The Caps brought their dads along for the annual Fathers trip. The dads took in last night’s game against the Panthers and will take in tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning before heading home.

Pre-Purim Party

Read More.

What to watch for:

Cavalry Charge:  Vincent Lecavalier has picked up the scoring slack for the Lightning.  With NHL leading goal scorer Steven Stamkos gone cold (1 goal in 11 games), Lecavalier has posted 3 goals and 7 points in his last 5 games.  Vinny has been giving the Bolts scoring from the second line, but if the top line of Stamkos and Martin St. Louis (0 points in 3 games) wakes up, the Lightning will be very dangerous indeed. 

Scoring Balance:  With goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Arnott, and Boyd Gordon in the last 3 games, plus an assist from Marcus Johansson, the Capitals now have four lines capable of scoring and playing solid defense.  If they can maintain a consistent effort level and get all of their defensemen back healthy, they will be a formidable team in the playoffs this year.  Once again, there is never a dull moment during a Caps game.  

F-16 Cleared For Takeoff: Eric Fehr has been cleared to return.  Out since January 14 with a shoulder injury after a collision with teammate David Steckel, Fehr has been patiently rehabilitating and has been participating in practice recently. Look for him to get back into the lineup soon as the Caps prepare for the playoffs.