My how quickly things can change in the NHL. A week ago we were all getting hyped up for the big game between the Caps and Sabres that Caps forgot to show up for. After that game many of us myself included thought the Caps were done. But they bounce back go into Boston get a huge win and watch Pittsburgh and Columbus knock off Buffalo and Florida and just like that the Caps have things under their own control. If the Capitals win 2 of their final 3 games they are headed to the playoffs after-all, win all 3 and get some help and we might even be the 3 seed.
As life goes when good things happen usually some bad follow. Nicklas Backstrom returned to the lineup saturday against Montreal and performed admirably. The bad news the Caps received was Tomas Vokoun reaggravated a groin injury and has probably played his last game in a Capitals uniform. And as of late the Caps have a habit of blowing leads but bailing themselves out in the shootout, normally this would drive me crazy but being that we need as many points as possible I'm ok with it for now.
Tonight the Capitals travel to Tampa to take on their bitter division rival the Lightning. This is the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year and also knocked the Jagr era Capitals out of the playoffs. If you're a Caps fan and the sight of Vinny Lecavalier's face doesn't make you wanna dropkick a Panda in the right ear then you've got problems. Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Hedman all these guys bring out a rage in me that is usually reserved for teams from Pittsburgh. They would love nothing more than to pull off a W tonight and try to take the Caps ith them to the golf course a week from now. They have the ability to do it, Stamkos is an electrifying talent that scores with ease. Defensively they've struggled this year and their goal-tending has been at times horrendous, this is why they're not headed for post-season play. The Caps have to come out tonight like a playoff team playing a bottom dweller. We have to stay out of the box as Tampa's power play is lethal. But most importantly the Caps need to score early and then jam their foot on Tampa's throats and don't let up. If the Caps come out with playoff type intensity they should be able to get a big 2 points tonight in Tampa.
The Caps currently control their own destiny but a stumble in a game like tonight's can throw a big wrench into that. For the Caps they have Tampa tonight a huge game against Florida on thursday and then close the season against the Rangers in what could be a first round preview game.
The goal-tending match-up tonight will see Tampa put Dwanye Roloson in the crease. Roloson is 0-1-1 against the Caps this year with a 3.87 goals against average and a save percentage of .871. Roloson is putting the finishing touches on what has been a fine career that has seen him excel in the playoffs. If not for getting injured he would have led the Edmonton Oilers to a Stanley Cup back in 2006. The Caps will be in unfamiliar territory this season as injured goalie Tomas Vokoun started all games against Tampa. Tonight Michal Neuvirth will get the nod, Neuvy was great against Montreal Saturday and has a 2-0 record all-time against Tampa with a 3.38 GAA and a .905 SV%.
PLAYERS TO WATCH TONIGHT:
TROY BROUWER RW, WASHINGTON = Brouwer has played well against Tampa this year and is due to put the puck in the net.
STEVEN STAMKOS C, TAMPA BAY = He is the best pure sniper in the game, the Caps need to keep him tightly guarded tonight or he could win it single handedly.