Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Lightning

Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Where: St. Petersburg Times Forum
401 Channelside Dr.
Tampa, FL 33602
When: Thursday, January 11, 7:30 pm

Broadcast Info: CSN, WTEM 980 AM; SUN Sports TV, WDAE 620 AM

Media Notes:
WashingtonCaps.com
TampaBayLightning.com
NHL.com
Washington Post
St. Petersburg Times

2006-07 Season Series: Caps 1-2-0, Lightning 2-1-0

2006-07 Standings: Caps 19-17-7, 45 points - 3rd in division, 8th in conference; Lightning 21-21-2, 44 points - 4th in division, 9th in conference

Last Game: December 19 in Washington, Caps lost 5-4
- If you look at the score, this game was a close one, a thrilling shootout of a game that came down to the last second. Just more proof that numbers sometimes lie. In a game that threatened to put the home crowd to sleep until the final period, the Caps themselves looked half asleep against a team that had up to that point lost 8 of it's last 9 games.
- And then sometimes numbers don't lie - the Caps broke their pattern of having only one bad period, changing it up with only one good period in this game as they were outshot 17-5 in the first period and 12-4 in the second.
- Special teams for both clubs took a serious hit tonight, as each team gave up two power play goals on only 5 chances apiece.
- The Caps decided to wait until the third period to start playing hockey, outshooting Tampa 16-5 and scoring two goals in under two minutes to make it a one goal game. The first of the two, a power play goal, came during the second consecutive delay of game penalty taken by the Bolts.
- Ovechkin scored his requisite goal and assist, and Semin added two assists to his points total. But most of the Caps scoring came from guys who maybe aren't as prolific when it comes to offense - Beech had a goal and an assist, Clymer had two assists, Heward and Muir each had a goal, and Laich and Sutherby each had an assist.
- For whatever reason, meetings between these two teams seem to effect their path for the next few weeks. For example, going into their last meeting back in November the Caps were winless in 6 straight and the Lightning were riding a 3 game winning streak; after that game the Caps won 4 straight and went 7-1-1 in their next 9 games, while Tampa spiralled to a 1-7-1 record over the same period. This time around, the loss for the Caps kicked off an 8 game stretch where they won one game, while the Lightning won two more and have since gone 7-4.

Things to Look for:
- Both teams are coming in off of modest win streaks - the Caps are victorious in their last three, the Bolts taking back-to-back 3-2 wins over the Penguins. I'll go out on a limb here and say one of these teams is going to see their little winning streak come to an end.
- Ovechkin and Semin both seem to be flying lately, as each has picked up points in his last three games: Ovechkin 3-5-8, +3; Semin 5-2-7, +3.
- With garbage goals for Sutherby, Clymer and Brashear in the Flyers game Tuesday night, the hope obviously is that all three will now start scoring on a more consistent basis.
- I don't know if Matt Pettinger is injured or just going through a wicked dry spell, but he has been virtually invisible lately. Whenever he gets the puck the other team is able to move him off it very quickly. Let's hope that nagging shoulder injury has healed and he's ready to resume his pace from earlier in the season, because the Caps need him to start contributing. We can't expect each Alex to score 2 goals every game...every other game, sure.
- The only way things could be any tighter between the Caps and Lightning would be if they had played the same number of games (the Caps have one in hand). As it is, they sit one point and one division/conference standing apart, with the Caps holding the narrowest of leads.
- Tampa Bay is currently ranked last in the league when shorthanded at just over 76% effective. Take that with a grain of salt, though, because they're not going to give you many chances with the extra man...I think they're afraid Torts is going to beat them if they take a penalty. Whatever the reason, the Bolts take the second fewest penalties in the league.
- Martin St. Louis has resumed his butt-kicking ways of the 2003-04 season, sitting fourth in points (2 behind Ovechkin, who is in second place) and second in goals (1 behind Ovie for the league lead). He's not quite at Cap-Killer status yet, but the flying midget does have 24 points in 31 games against the Caps and has four points through three meetings so far this season.
- I would call Ovechkin a Bolts-Killer, but he pretty much likes to score against everyone (you don't rack up 106 points in your rookie year by being snakebitten against too many teams). Still, in his short career he has 15 points in 11 games against Tampa; 5 of those points have come this season.

None of the three meetings this season have been particularly exciting, as one team or the other (and sometimes both) has simply not shown up with their best game. It would be nice to see a game between these two teams that makes you think they're division rivals or something...but for whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be much passion or hatred between the Caps and Bolts at the moment, so I'm not holding my breath. Let's just get out of Tampa with two points and hope for more carnage and mayhem further down the line.

On a side note, I'll be in Florida this weekend for a family event - unfortunately the Caps didn't think to run their schedule by me, so they'll be leaving Tampa as I'm arriving, but what can you do. Anyways, I won't be around to entertain you kiddies for a few days, but try and be brave in my absence. As always there are many people in the Caps blogosphere who are much smarter and funnier than I am...

Okay, that's a lie. But they still do a darn good job. :)

I'll be back on Sunday to recap things I didn't see, post rumors I can't confirm, and get you all set up for Tuesday's Capital Showdown in Kanata (that's just outside Ottawa for my Canadian geography-challenged friends). Nicknames to return, I promise.

Have a good weekend, and here's hoping for 4 points from the Sunshine State!

1 comment:

hockeygirl said...

*sigh* I was all excited to see the nicknames, esp. for Lecavalier and I scroll and scroll and scroll and nothing. *sigh* Maybe the world will return to normal when I get back to TO. *sigh*