After finishing their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the New York Rangers in five games, the Washington Capitals had to wait nearly a week to find out who their next opponent would be. With Buffalo and Montreal eliminated by Philadelphia and Boston, respectively, game seven of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning series determined who would move on to face the Caps. The Bolts prevailed on Wednesday in front of the Pens faithful at Consol Energy Center, 1-0. In the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Capitals have proven that they can advance while the Lightning have proven that they are a much improved franchise. Now, the Southeast Division rivals will face off in what could be a very close series.
- How these teams start a game is critical to their success so far in this year’s playoffs. Both teams have 1.000 win percentages when scoring first. When leading after the first period, the Bolts and Caps have also have perfect records. The difference early on in this semifinal series could very well be which team scores first. Especially, if it happens to be the Caps. Tampa Bay posted a disappointing .250 winning percentage when the Penguins scored first in their first round series.
- In the first round, the Tampa Bay Lightning were pretty good in either end of the ice on special teams. Against the Penguins, the Bolts had the second best penalty kill at 97.1% and third best power play at 29.6%. The Caps penalty kill operated at 95% while the power play was only 18.8% effective against the Rangers. Obviously, this presents a challenge to the Washington power play to start producing and for the penalty killers to stifle a very potent Tampa Bay power play.
Game One Goalie Match-Up
Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals
1st Round Stats Dwayne Roloson Michal Neuvirth
GP 7 5
W 4 4
L 3 1
GA 13 8
SV% .949 .946
GAA 1.77 1.38
SO 1 1
The 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson found the proverbial fountain of youth after being dealt to Tampa Bay by the New York Islanders. Rolo entered game seven against the Pens with a 2.05 GAA and .941 save percentage in the series. He went on to blank Pittsburgh in their own barn, stopping all 36 shots by the Penguins, including 15 in the first period, and 14 in the third. During the regular season, Roloson shutout the Caps twice in a span of eight days in January. In the final two regular season meetings, the Caps crashed Roloson’s net and clearly got him off of his game, netting 7 goals against the Tampa netminder.
- By the numbers, Michal Neuvirth has been playing out of his mind in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs. He leads all goaltenders who have played at least five games in these playoffs with a 1.38 GAA and is second only to Dwayne Roloson in save percentage by a .003 difference. Like Roloson, the key to beating Neuvy is get bodies and pucks to the net. The Lightning, unlike the New York Rangers, have two net front guys in Steve Downie and Ryan Malone. Just like the first round, the Caps must support Neuvirth with strong, team defense.
How the Caps can win the series
- Again, quick starts. The Lightning will only be 36 hours removed from an emotional game seven in Pittsburgh. The Capitals would do well to get the first hit, shot, and goal, to build momentum in the series.
- Bruce Boudreau and his coaching staff must find a way to get the power play going. They may have to get creative with personnel and positioning (i.e., don’t load up the first unit, move Ovi down low).
- Take advantage of their rest and healing against a tired Bolts squad. Against a team that just completed a seven game series, has not been home in a few days, and has a blue line corps generally regarded as slow, the Caps should exploit the situation with speed. Washington should get pucks in behind the Lightning defense, punish them physically, and work from the corners and below the goal line to create chances.
|3||5/3||TBD||St. Pete Times Forum|
|4||5/4||7:00pm||St. Pete Times Forum|
|**6||5/9||TBD||St. Pete Times Forum|
** IF NECESSARY
|11/11/2010||6-3 Victory for the Caps|
|11/26/2010||6-0 Victory for the Caps|
|1/4/2011||1-0 OT Victory for the Bolts|
|1/12/2011||3-0 Victory for the Bolts|
|2/4/2011||5-2 Victory for the Caps|
|3/7/2011||2-1 SO Victory for the Caps|
Bolts (2-3-1) Caps (4-1-1)
Top Three Scorers in 2011 Playoffs
1st: Martin St. Louis – Goals:4, Assists: 4, Points: 8
T-2nd: Simon Gagne – Goals: 2, Assists: 5, Points: 7
T-2nd: Steve Downie – Goals: 1, Assists: 6, Points: 7
3rd: Vincent Lecavalier – Goals:2, Assists: 4, Points: 6
1st: Alex Ovechkin – Goals: 3, Assists: 3, Points: 6
2nd: Mike Green – Goals: 1, Assists: 4, Points: 5
T-3rd: Brooks Laich – Goals: 0, Assists: 4, Points: 4
T-3rd: Alex Semin – Goals: 3, Assists: 1, Points: 4
T-3rd: Marcus Johansson – Goals: 2, Assists: 2, Points: 4
Special Teams in 2011 Playoffs
Shots Per Game: 16th
Shots Against Per Game: 15th
Penalty Kill: 2nd
Power Play: 3rd
Shots Per Game: 8th
Shots Against Per Game: 5th
Penalty Kill: 3rd
Power Play: 11th